Contributors: W. Barnett Pearce, Stephen E. Lucas, Donal Carbaugh, Molefi Kete Asante, Everett M. Rogers, William B Hart, Roderick P. Hart Jr., and Julia T. Wood.

Toward a National Conversation About Public Issues

Toward a national conversation about public issues
W. BarnettPearce The Fielding Institute

In a speech to the National Press Club in 1994, Sheldon Hackney called for a “national conversation” about the issues confronting us as a society. Not only because the National Endowment for the Humanities offered to fund projects that aid and abet such a national conversation, Hackney's comments have been taken very seriously.

But the term national conversation itself is odd. When we think of communication in a national context, we generally think of the mass media. Notions of the New York Times or a televised address from the Oval Office come to mind: We think of media moguls, celebrity journalists, and hard-bitten, cynical campaign managers.

On the other hand, ...

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