The News Feed, a new EIV show that premiered Monday evening, brings passionate debaters from real Facebook fights to a live studio to discuss controversial topics face to face.
The premiere episode featured President M. Lee Pelton, senior journalist-in-residence and Beacon advisor Douglas Struck, and students Samson Amore and Erik Picone. The discussion centered around the role of safe spaces on college campuses.
Jackie DeFusco, a junior journalism major, pitched the idea for the show last semester.
“I think a lot of the time, fear of other political opinions comes from a lack of contact with other political opinions, and I felt like this was a really important conversation to have,” DeFusco said.
DeFusco, who is set to moderate the debates this semester, explained that once a topic is chosen, a team of associate and logistical producers determine the angle and draft questions for the debate.
“[The panelists] were briefed on what we would be covering but didn’t exactly know what they would be asked or what they would be responding to, in that sense I thought it turned out really good,” DeFusco said.
She hopes that the show will help the debaters elaborate on certain points from Facebook comments, as well as giving viewers another perspective within a political subject.
“Obviously everyone likes a good Facebook fight,” DeFusco said. “How many times do you see somebody calling somebody else ‘uneducated’ in a Facebook fight? And in contrast, how often do you see that in a face to face conversation? I thought that was a huge problem and that there was a way to combat that.”
Lexie Kaufman, a freshman journalism major at Emerson, is one of the six associate producers for the News Feed. Kaufman said the show has been getting a lot of positive and negative feedback, and she hopes students will open their minds to different opinions.
“I know for the most part a lot of people here agree with each other,” Kaufman said. “But there are a lot of us who are different and have different opinions. We need to start respecting them, we need to start hearing them, we need to start having face to face debates instead of unfriending each other and just blocking each other.”
Picone, a sophomore marketing major and a libertarian, said he chose to participate so that a conservative voice would be represented.
“I thought it would be a good way for me to put my ideas forward and try and carve out a space for myself where I can actually be of use to people on campus who have similar ideas like me, but don’t feel like they can share them,” Picone said.
Picone said he argued against safe space culture and in favor of freedom of speech.
“I think Emerson in particular, it is a bit of a coddled campus,” Picone said “I feel like it could be more inclusive of diversity of thought. In classrooms, I don’t often see conservative or libertarian positions. It’s definitely dominated by the left side.”
Amore, a junior journalism major and a transgender student, said he did not enjoy the discussion and would not join the show again.
“It just felt like I was there to share not just my opinion, but the opinion of a lot of minorities,” Amore said. “It was really interesting because [DeFusco] was asking really general questions, and it was really tough to answer them because obviously I only represent myself.”
Picone said the panelists represented a variety of opinions and that DeFusco was an objective moderator. But he said the 36 minute episode was too short and there was not enough time for counterarguments.
Amore said the show has potential, but is not developed enough yet. He said he left the debate hurt and is worried the show will continually make a minority student argue for their self-validation.
“It’s not because of anyone in particular,” Amore said. “I just don’t think it was made with the consideration for a minority. It sort of just seemed like it was designed for views and a platform for an opinion that I am trying to my very best to respect, but I am having a very tough time doing.”
DeFusco said the team hasn’t decided on the topic for the next episode, which will air April 24. She said she hopes to cover a local issue like charter schools versus public schools or marijuana legalization. Students can nominate friends or submit suggestions to the the News Feed’s Facebook page. DeFusco hopes the show can start meaningful conversations.
“I do think that there’s a blatant lack of contact in today’s political climate,” DeFusco said. “We just want to get people talking and get people really thinking about politics in a way that maybe they haven’t.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated The News Feed does not know the date for their next episode. It is April 24.