Will John Edwards Become the Al Gore of Poverty?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
I watched Edwards' interview Friday night and it was pretty clear that he had help from crisis communication experts, delivering a narrative about a man who had come from a modest background only to succumb to hubris in his quest for power. With his southern charm and his trial lawyer poise, I thought it was a brilliant performance, though questions obviously linger about payments to his mistress and whether or not he really is the father of the child.
Of course, going head to head with the Olympics, only 3 million people actually watched the interview, but that was part of the strategy.
Yet, despite Edwards best attempts to bury attention to the revelation, and even though the story broke on a Friday, it still generated a considerable amount of overall news attention. According to Pew, the scandal registered as the #4 most widely covered topic of the week, filling 4% of the newshole in comparison to 6% for domestic terrorism, 11% for the Olympics and 24% of the newshole filled by the election.
So what should Edwards do now? The former candidate should stay under the political radar until late 2009, then re-emerge sporting a beard, having gained some weight, and dedicating the rest of his life to combating poverty. Edwards should become the Al Gore of poverty.
(Ok, I was just joking about the beard.)
Indeed, for Edwards, it would be a public communication challenge just as daunting as breaking through to Americans on global warming. I wrote a report about this challenge last year, arguing that poverty needs to be redefined in terms of social inclusion and low wage work.
I don't pretend to have the answers for a breakthrough on poverty, but the report does address the current problems with many contemporary communication efforts and points to several ways forward.
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
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