March 21, 2017

Innovation Fund 2017: Bridge the Media

The 2017 Innovation Fund, our annual crowdfunding competition, has officially launched! You can find all of the Innovation Fund participants here. Read on for the story of Bridge the Media, a tool for the well-rounded news reader, created by Pamela Taylor ’16.

It’s time to bridge the media

We all have a friend who returned from Thanksgiving in shambles because dinnertime discussion with the family took a wrong turn. The friend who was just trying to enjoy her sweet potatoes, but felt obligated to confront her aunt’s offensive comments about Radical Islamic Terrorism. The friend who, despite her best efforts at staying informed on current events, was unable to properly articulate her disagreement because she was not fluent on all sides of the topic.
At some point during our middle school education, we were taught the key to conducting quality research: consult multiple sources. Yet as adults, how often do we do this when consuming information about current events? If you’re anything like me, the answer is “not often enough.”

The recent climate around politics and media has brought to light that this country’s information dissemination system is broken. Fake news is feeding lies into the minds and hearts of the unknowing. The insularity-perpetuating algorithms behind our news feeds are disillusioning our reality. Digital publications’ reliance on advertising for revenue encourages clickbait.

Here’s how it works

Flabbergasted by the many problems, the Bridge the Media team has set out to solve one: journalistic bias. Our team is building a Google Chrome Extension that encourages online news readers to break their internet bubbles by recommending articles from alternative standpoints. By simply hovering over a headline, readers are presented with an article on the same topic from a different angle.
But our aspirations don’t stop there. What if we could build a digital bridge between other types of divides that exist in our nation and world? What if we could build a platform that allows news readers to navigate freely across online publications without hitting pay walls?

The Bridge the Media team knows that if Americans are exposed to viewpoints we might not otherwise see, we can build greater empathy for people who are different from us. By better understanding why a person subscribes to a certain ideology or supports a specific policy, we can engage in more thoughtful discourse and make better decisions for our country.
It’s easy to forget the biased underpinnings of our media outlets, especially when we are surrounded by friends who agree with our beliefs. But in order to truly stand up for what is right we must diversify the sources from which we read our news.  

Here’s how to help 

We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received so far, and look forward to expanding our Bridge the Media toolset with you. Please share Bridge the Media with your friends who can’t help but defend what is right at Thanksgiving dinner, and their aunts too.


Posted in: Fellows, Inside VFA