So What?

(Breakfast) Food for Thought

November 7, 2014  • David Devlin-Foltz

Media effects on elections? We eat ‘em for breakfast

Post-election coverage this week objectively reported the vote tallies, but headlines and pundits framed the numbers. Will the results worsen or  improve  partisan gridlock? And what about journalists and pundits themselves? Do they drive partisan voter decisions?  Should they? New York University professor Jay Rosen says “Journalists need a point of view if they want to stay relevant.” How do journalists – and commentators – with an openly stated “point of view” change how we think about the role of media in American democracy? Join us on December 2, 8:15-9:45 AM, for a breakfast talk on partisan media effects by APEP deputy director Susanna Dilliplane. Reserve your place here for (objectively wonderful) discussion, coffee, and breakfast yumminess.

Social Network Analysis at AEA: And the crowd goes wild!

As advocacy evaluators, we often want to know whether and how key actors relate to one another, be they coalition members, policymakers, or other movers and shakers. Social network analysis can unlock highly useful insights into these relationships. But it can be intimidating to attempt. Well, fear the mighty Pajek no more. At the recent American Evaluation Association conference, Dr. Bobbi Carothers, a senior data analyst at the Center for Public Health Systems Science at the Washington University in St. Louis, provided an excellent step-by-step demonstration of how to conduct network analysis. So if you weren’t there when Dr. Carothers presented to a packed room of evaluators (we’re talking overflowing-into-the-hallway, borderline-fire-hazard packed), we recommend you check out her great how-to demo.

Public libraries: An essential democratic institution

Here at the Aspen Institute we have, ahem, The Five Best Ideas of the Day, and other (presumably still very good) ideas propagated through our Aspen Ideas blog. And as our devoted So What?  readers know, the APEP team ain’t shy about pointing out our favorite ideas. So here’s an ambitious one we think is worthy of a shout-out: the Aspen Communication and Society Program’s effort to promote a bold new vision for the future of public libraries in the U.S.  Full disclosure: we are working with our Aspen colleagues to help them assess the impact of that vision statement. So we’ll leave it to the National Archives’ David Ferriero to talk up this idea.