Reaching Republican Voters


Our third webinar, “Reaching Republican Voters,” featured speakers from three organizations that shared insight into how journalists can connect and engage with conservative voters and politicians.

    • Understanding how conservatives think and depolarizing conversations(3:15) are key, said Steve Saltwick on the national leadership team of Braver Angels, a national, grassroots, organization aimed at bridging the partisan divide and strengthening democracy (2:40).
      • Get beyond stereotypes by recognizing another’s perspective (5:26). 
      • Be curious, sensitive to requests for anonymity, and understand motivation (7:02).
      • Four keys to minimizing emotion and depolarizing a conversation: Listen for values and emotions, acknowledge what you are hearing, and agree with whatever you can agree with, pivot to a different perspective, expand the conversation, introduce a contrasting view (8:15).
      • When an interviewee disputes basic facts, look for shared values to  establish common ground; this may allow you to reach an understanding based on values and principles (14:30).
    • Keith Hammonds of Solutions Journalism Network shared key lessons he’s learned as publisher of The Monitor Online in a deep red part of Montana.
      • Not all conservatives are alike; to understand people we must understand what life experiences informed their views (21:50).
      • “Complicating the Narratives” a practice codified by author Amanda Ripley that allows journalists to draw from experts in conflict meditation to tell richer and more powerful stories about polarizing issues without advancing division (23:45).
      • Key questions that get past divisions: Why is this personally important to you? What life experiences have shaped your views? For those that disagree with you, what would you like them to understand about you (24:38).
      • Listening carefully and respectfully, and using the technique called Looping, relaying back what you a subject’s answer to demonstrate you are listening and understanding what they are telling you, can be a powerful tool when interviewing subjects with opposing views. 
      • Examples: Right wing politician Greg DeVries “Indian caucus wants genocide comments denounced” (25:25).
    • Joy Mayer who directs Trusting News, which helps journalists earn credibility and the public’s trust, shared seven tips to help journalists reach a broader audience. Journalists must understand what world views and values readers bring to their news consumption. 
      • Show humility when talking to subjects, and stop overgeneralizing (41:07), journalists painting conservatives with a broad brush is the number one complaint they have heard
      • Instead of focusing on extreme sources, highlight more moderate voices, so viewers feel their views are represented in the news (42:15).
      • Inaccurate and generalized word choices can turn off readers (43:40).
      • Make sure to be transparent and intentional when running wire reports and opinion pieces (45:15). 
      • Talk to your audience and listen to their concerns and what they want (46:50).
      • Don’t waste energy on reaching audiences that are unreachable (47:15).

Next Steps:

Download Joy’s presentation deck.

Download Steve’s presentation deck.

Download Keith’s presentation deck.