MCLEAN, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), announced today a partnership with the #ListenFirst Coalition and My Country Talks to foster connection and provide an opportunity for Americans to have honest, respectful and meaningful conversations. America Talks is a two-day virtual event taking place June 12 and 13, 2021. All Americans 18 and older are encouraged to register for the event, which enables open dialogue among individuals who have differing perspectives.
Gannett will play a central role in helping thousands of Americans with diverse backgrounds and beliefs participate in the national virtual discussion. To help Americans register for the event, Gannett will embed a special questionnaire in online news articles published in USA TODAY and in over 250 of Gannett’s local news sites in 46 states. Daily news readers will be invited to answer a few, simple survey questions and then be given the opportunity to sign up for a one-on-one, face-to-face video conversation with another participant who has differing views during the digital event in June.
“USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network are delighted to bring America Talks to our readers across the country. Now more than ever, we need to engage in courageous conversations across our differences, and we hope our readers will answer the call,” said Mizell Stewart III, Vice President of News Performance, Talent, and Partnerships for Gannett and the USA TODAY Network. “With deep roots in red and blue states across the country, we are uniquely positioned to help facilitate conversation between people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives who are open to finding common ground.”
America Talks will serve as the headline event kicking off the annual National Week of Conversation (NWOC) showcasing additional opportunities for Americans to have conversations despite differences in bold and energizing ways. This year’s NWOC will take place June 14 – June 20, 2021. Powered by the #ListenFirst Coalition of 300+ organizations, the National Week of Conversation invites Americans to listen and discover common interests by also using the official hashtag #ListenFirst.
“America needs to talk, and we need to listen to those unlike ourselves. The way we’re demonizing each other across differences is a real threat to all Americans, our families, our communities, and our country. America Talks is a chance for us to take a courageous and necessary step toward healing America,” said Pearce Godwin, Founder & CEO, Listen First Project. “It’s easy to sit back and point fingers, to lose hope. What if instead we stepped forward and got real with each other, extending curiosity, good will and grace? That’s what America Talks and the subsequent National Week of Conversation are all about.”
The America Talks initiative aligns with Gannett’s ongoing mission to bridge the country’s divide and coincides with USA TODAY and Public Agenda’s Hidden Common Ground Initiative. Public Agenda’s most recent study finds a powerful consensus across political affiliations that the country needs to move beyond the destructive divisiveness that plagues our politics. The research also finds that 79% of Americans believe creating more opportunities for people to talk with those who have different values and views would be effective in reducing divisiveness. Hidden Common Ground challenges the narrative of a divided America by identifying and amplifying the areas where Americans agree on solutions to polarizing issues. Through a partnership with National Issues Forums, the initiative also seeks to foster productive, civil conversation in communities across the country.