Donald Trump should/should not be president

By Jorge Caraballo, Monica Guzman, Carolyn Libby, Brittany Parker, and Wendi Thomas

Our team applied debunking and persuasion strategies to the debate over whether Donald Trump should be president of the United States.

We were inspired by this L.A. Times editorial against Trump, which dismissed Trump supporters in the first three sentences. We thought it’d be interesting to make the case against Trump in a way that would make Trump supporters feel heard, and make the case for Trump in a way even Trump detractors could pause to consider.

So this is what we created:

  • a slideshow message to Trump supporters aimed at gaining their attention and persuading them not to vote for Trump (Wendi Thomas and Monica Guzman)
  • A graphic that elaborates on and clarifies the argument made in the slideshow  (Jorge Caraballo and Carolyn Libby)
  • a comment or response to a Los Angeles Times’ editorial rejecting Trump in which the author argues that Trump actually would make America great again (Brittany Parker)

First up, the slideshow (click on the pic to open it, and read the whole thing before you move on!)…

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And here are a few graphics to strengthen the point…



Trump Kasich agree

And finally, our pro-Trump comment:

This election goes far beyond Donald Trump.

Over the past century, the office of the presidency has slowly usurped power from the legislative and judicial branches of government, distorting the system of checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution.

We, as a nation, must DEMAND a return to congressional primacy over the republic as our founders intended. From Ronald Reagan, who abused his authority to provide executive legalization to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, to Barack Obama, who used federal funds that weren’t appropriated by Congress to fund Obamacare, neither Republicans nor Democrats are immune from the seduction of power. Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of a professional politician who prizes shamelessness and ambition over virtue, would only further poison the well.

For the first time in many, many moons, power truly lies at the ballot box. In order to combat executive overreach and its gross consolidation of power, we must force Congress to act. And to force Congress to act, we must vote for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a line in the sand. If our elected officials truly believe that a Trump presidency would be a disaster for this great nation, then they will fight to re-calibrate the balance of power to ensure that the Congress regains its role as the prime legislative authority in the United States.

Our founders understood the danger of tyranny. Executive overreach, growing more rampant with each passing administration, is a threat to our civil liberties and to the rule of law. Our democracy will be best served by voting in a candidate who can break the wheel that rotates Democrats and Republicans out of office, and finally inspire strong bipartisan action in government.

Vote for Trump: let’s make America great again.

Note: To get a better understanding of what drives Trump supporters, we studied their statements in these and other articles:

Will Boston’s T cost more to ride?

By Christa Case Bryant, Mónica Guzmán and Jorge Caraballo.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, known by Boston locals as the T, is proposing a fare hike of 5 or 10 percent to update its system and improve service. But many riders and interest groups say low fares are not the problem. Adjusting for inflation, fares have nearly doubled since 1997. Nearly one-third of the MBTA’s employees made more than $100,000 last year, some of whom signed off on their own overtime. Critics say the MBTA should get its fiscal house in order.

On Monday, the MBTA fiscal control board met to consider the proposed fare hikes and hear public comment.

[View the story “Should Boston’s T raise its fares?” on Storify]

The MBTA came under scrutiny when it released data showing that nearly one-third of its employees received more than $100,000 in gross pay in 2015. Below is a chart based on MBTA data published by the Boston Globe.

The red line charts MBTA employees' base pay in 2015. The blue line charts their gross pay. The increases were largely due to overtime and back pay. (Data: Boston Globe)

The red line charts MBTA employees’ base pay in 2015. The blue line charts their gross pay. The increases were largely due to overtime and back pay. (Data: Boston Globe)

“Charlie and the MTA”
Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax-Hawes

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
“One more nickel.”
Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.

Now all night long
Charlie rides through the tunnels the station
Saying, “What will become of me?
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?”

Charlie’s wife goes down
To the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin’ through.

As his train rolled on
underneath Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed:
“Well, I’m sore and disgusted
And I’m absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride.”
{this entire verse was replaced by a banjo solo}

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don’t you think it’s a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O’Brien
Fight the fare increase!
And fight the fare increase
Vote for George O’Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

Or else he’ll never return,
No he’ll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man (Who’s the man)
He’s the man who never returned.
He’s the man (Oh, the man)
He’s the man who never returned.
He’s the man who never returned.

Monica’s conversation diary by the numbers (and charts!)


I did something a little different for my “media” diary. Rather than track what “goes into my head” via digital media, I tracked what goes into my head — and out of it — via non-digital conversation. 

Why would I do such a thing?

  1. I’m really interested in exploring the work conversation does to unite us, teach us, and help us co-create knowledge and understanding, now that it’s so easy for people to speak and be heard.
  2. I’m convinced that journalists could gain a lot from guiding and even leading public conversations around the news wherever they happen — as could society at large.
  3. And as for my focus on tracking my non-digital, rather than digital, conversation: Sometimes a cool way to learn what something is is to look at what it isn’t. Digital conversation gets criticized — hastily, I think — for being less immersive, building less empathy, etc., than non-digital conversation. To the extent that’s true, what can we do to bring more of the strengths of in-person conversation to the digital world? Taking a close look at our own conversations might help us figure that out.

So here’s what I did, and what I learned:

Tracking non-digital “conversations”

Here's one of the 9 sheets I used to track, by hand, each and every non-digital conversation I had over three days

Here’s one of the 9 sheets I used to track, by hand, each and every non-digital conversation I had over three days

For the purposes of my tracking, I defined a “conversation” as an exchange among myself and at least one other person in which we all use our actual voices to speak. So in-person and telephone conversations are in, but tweets and emails are out.

For each and every separate conversation I documented over the waking hours of three days (Feb. 11, Feb. 12 and Feb. 15), I tracked a bunch of stuff:

  • duration (in minutes)
  • location
  • whether we talked to each other in person or not (y/n)
  • whether the conversation was specifically scheduled (y/n)
  • how well I know the other participants (0-5, with 0 = not at all and 5 = they’re family)
  • whether I knew the participant’s names

And these are key:

  • how immersed I was in the conversation (0-5, with 0 = barely paying attention and 5 = nothing else matters)
  • how much I felt the conversation built on the relationship between myself and whoever I was speaking to (0-5, with 0 = not at all and 5 = hugely bonded)
  • how much I enjoyed the conversation (0-5, with 0 = not at all and 5 = tremendously)
  • how much enduring knowledge I got from the conversation  (0-5, with 0 = none and 5 = tons)

I collected information on 169 separate conversations.

And here’s what I got, by the numbers…

Most of my conversations were under 5 minutes long. The longest conversations happened while people were sitting still: a meeting over coffee, another over lunch, a dinner with friends, and catching up with my husband at the end of the day.

Most of my conversations were under 5 minutes long. The longest conversations happened while people were sitting still: a meeting over coffee, another over lunch, a dinner with friends, and catching up with my husband at the end of the day.


  • 42 percent of the time I was awake, I was in conversation
  • The average conversation lasted 6.6 minutes
  • Half my conversations clocked in at under a minute, while only 10 percent lasted 30 minutes or more. Those shorter conversations went by fast, though: They accounted for just 0.3 percent of the total time I spent in conversation
  • 1 of every 10 of my conversations were with strangers whose names I didn’t know (waiters, cashiers, etc.). But they, too, were quick, making up just 0.7 percent of my total conversation time
  • I spent 516 minutes44 percent of my total conversation time — talking to just the three members of my immediate family: my husband, my 3-year-old son, and my baby daughter. Unsurprisingly, a third of my conversations took place at home.
  • All but 12 of these non-digital conversations happened in person. Eleven were phone conversations, and one was an online podcast interview



I was extra curious about the three scales on which I measured the work my conversations were doing — relationship building, enjoyment, and knowledge building — and to what extent they were related to a conversation’s duration, or how immersed I felt I was in each one.

These were subjective, self-reported scales, and fairly uncalibrated. But just for fun, here’s the lowdown:

  • I spent 70 percent of my conversation time in discussions I really enjoyed, in 37 exchanges I rated a 4 or 5 on the enjoyment scale
  • I spent 15 percent of my conversation time in discussions that significantly built on my relationships, in just five exchanges I rated a 4 or 5 on the relationship scale, all of whom I also rated a 4 or 5 on enjoyment
  • I spent 24 percent of my conversation time in discussions where I felt I learned a significant amount, rated 4 or 5 on the knowledge building scale. Only six conversations met this high bar — and five of these six were also rated 5 on the enjoyment scale
  • For reference: On average, I rated my conversations a 2.6 on immersion, a 1.6 on relationship building, a 2.5 on enjoyment and a 0.4 on knowledge building

Now for the fun part. Did longer conversations correlate with higher grades on these scales? How about conversations in which I felt more immersed in the conversation itself, with less preoccupying or distracting me?

Here are a few charts to illustrate an answer to those questions. I claim no statistical significance here, but you can see some trends — especially when you compare immersion with enjoyment…






Just from a walking-around-in-my-own-body standpoint, there’s no question to me, having done this, that I get more out of conversations when I’m able to focus on them, and on the people I’m talking to. That’s really hard, though, and the rewards of great conversations are more rare than I realized.

I do a lot of other things while I talk to people. Walking around, taking notes, eating, looking something up on my phone … Many of my conversations fit in the transitional periods between other activities.

But many of my most enjoyable, longest lasting and knowledge building conversations stayed still somehow. A lunch with a student who inspires me. A one-hour reading lesson with my son. A family dinner at my best friend’s place.

Here’s another interesting tidbit: Of the 169 conversations I tracked over these three days, 15 had been formally scheduled to happen (coffee meetings, a lunch, an interview, etc.). Those I rated, on average, 4.1 on immersion, 2.9 on relationship building, 4.2 on enjoyment and 2.5 on knowledge building — far higher than the total conversation averages listed above.

The attention economy, indeed…

Hearken: Involving the public in news selection and reporting

If you haven’t heard of it, Hearken is something to check out.

It’s a company that’s out to streamline a process in which journalists ask people to submit ideas for questions they should answer in their reporting, allow them to vote on the top answers, and then select a story to pursue, with the public’s help:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.47.53 PM

Hearken is the evolution of Curious City, a project from Chicago public media station WBEZ that its founder, Jennifer Brandel, has taken from a local success to a national template.

Several public media stations around the country are using Hearken to get people involved in story selection and reporting. Several news organizations have actually asked the people who submit winning story ideas to join reporters out in the field, and learn a ton in the process.

The company’s two main products are its curiosity module and its voting module. Those work on tapping a local community’s curiosity about local goings-on and turning it into a process that helps newsrooms select stories to report that often fall outside the typical definition of news: It may not be particularly timely. It may not be particular newsy. But hey. People around you are curious. And if you follow that curiosity, they’re bound to pay attention, and follow reporters’ efforts to satisfy it.

As Hearken’s site explains:



Ultimately, Hearken helps journalists engage the public. It’s difficult to know how best to involve people in the reporting process. But with the right method and the right reward, they can be motivated to share their deepest curiosities about their communities, giving reporters a direction that is hard to beat.

After all: What could be more relevant than answering your readers’ most important questions?

Posted in All

Mónica Guzmán

monipicHey all! I’m a 2016 Nieman Fellow this year, and to sum it up: I’m out to learn and show how building closer ties with the public makes journalism stronger and more sustainable.

Most recently I’ve been a freelance columnist, writing about technology and culture for The Seattle Times, GeekWire, the Daily Beast and The Columbia Journalism Review. I serve as vice-chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee, and until I came to Boston was the emcee of Ignite Seattle — a fun community speaker series where anyone and everyone can learn how give a great 5-minute lightning talk to a room full of 800 people.

Here’s my longer bio with more resume bits, awards, the braggy stuff. Among the bigger projects I’m proud of: I wrote the closing chapter in Poynter’s New Ethics of Journalism, called “Community as an End,” and for a couple years I ran weekly meetups for readers of my Seattle news blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. That’s how I became convinced that getting to know readers leads to the best ways to serve them.

On that note, I’m excited to get to know you all, see what we learn together, and get to work making it real 🙂