By Director Frank Sesno
Here’s what’s happened. We’ve become digitally curious. Our DNA is now wired to search -- constantly. We search for jobs, food, money, travel, science, sex, clothes, weather, movies. You name it.
Google reports that, in 2011, it propelled 4.7 billion searches each day.
We have entered a new, data-driven universe. More people getting more information more quickly than any time in human history.
Politics, however, is the outlier.
Here we’re mired, not in data and real information, but in argument, assertion, allegation and noise.
No wonder the public is fed up with candidates, media, interest groups – just about anyone who has their hands on the levers of this runaway freight train.
It couldn’t happen at a worse time. Our economy is laboring to get back on its feet. Millions of homeowners are trapped in mortgages that are under water. Europe is struggling. China is viewed with suspicion. The world’s climate is changing. And Washington is a place of bickering, not breakthrough. Little wonder that sixty percent of Americans think we are headed in the wrong direction, according to a recent Wall Street Journal-NBC poll.
We can do better than this. Rediscover reality. Start with facts, put them in perspective, quit shouting, start solving the problems that confront this great country.
So a diverse, bipartisan group of people have started something new. FACE THE FACTS USA.
Every day from now until the election, we’ll produce a fact a day. 100 facts in all. In ten categories that convey something really interesting about our big challenges.
Fact. We’re an energy exporter again.
Fact. Almost one in six Americans gets a Social Security benefit. One in seven is on food stamps.
Fact. Despite deductions and depletions, we really do have the highest corporate income tax in the world.
So we’ll start with the facts. The data. The stuff people look for every day when they google. We’ll link to ideas, opinions, debate and research from lots of perspectives. We call it “Details on Demand.”
We want to generate conversation around these facts. So we’ll connect people and experts online, in Hangouts, through user tools and discussion to dive into the facts. We call it, “Factor Me In.”
You’ll see our facts every day on the Google politics page. In the Twitterverse. On Facebook. And, yes, in traditional media. We’re giving the facts away.
Maybe we can start a movement. Maybe we can use social media, hangouts, real engagement to show that we can change the equation, show that citizens can come together to get smart, get involved and demand solutions not soundbites.
Oh, the facts about us: We are totally independent. We have no political agenda. We are a project of The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. We just want to put facts first. It’s about time.
We think George would be proud.