Jochen Wegner: What happened when we paired up thousands of strangers to talk politics
Jochen Wegner edits Zeit Online, the website of German weekly "Die Zeit," which prizes deep dives into cultural issues. Full bio
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a thousand kilometers,
and he's a customer manager from Germany.
totally at odds over European politics,
to Russia or whatever.
a somewhat irritating email.
every single minute of it!"
and Nils from Germany.
of their local football team,
and Tottenham Hotspurs.
where football roots were invented,
about this contentious topic,
enjoyed it very much."
from 33 countries
a stranger with a different opinion,
called "Europe Talks."
amongst people with different opinions
friends no longer talk to each other.
are amplified by social media,
in the core, a digital product.
that contradict our convictions.
is definitely necessary,
to get a divided society
at least some research,
to get a new perspective:
have your opinion.
the world in a new way,
news organizations in Germany.
as a really modest editorial exercise.
especially over the issue of migration.
a million refugees in 2015 and 2016
about our own upcoming election in 2017,
the way we were dealing with politics.
many very strange digital product ideas,
together with different opinions.
a "minimum viable product."
"Germany Talks" --
can use to make surveys online.
we embedded simple questions like this:
"Does the West treat Russia fairly?"
be allowed to marry?"
we asked one more question:
who totally disagrees with you?"
with no budget whatsoever.
hundred-ish people to register,
by hand, the pairs.
1,000 people had registered.
12,000 Germans had signed up
with a different opinion.
the perfect Tinder matches,
having answered the questions
we had many concerns.
in real life would be awful.
in our database.
and talked about politics peacefully.
or was against -- gay marriage,
in a domestic partnership
for hours about all the topics
by his statements about gay marriage,
his own assumptions.
and are friends.
for example, this court bailiff.
populist party AfD in Germany,
of the Green Party.
and his student.
and his very own daughter-in-law,
but have really different opinions.
document the discussions,
people to perform in any way.
neighborhood called Prenzlauer Berg,
Mirko didn't want to be in the picture.
all the hipsters in our area,
and I found him to be a wonderful person.
really different opinions
of women's rights,
his thoughts --
he used to be a neo-Nazi.
because I want to get over it.
to talk about it anymore."
a history like that could never change,
who sent us thousands of emails
if some of the pairs got married.
and wanted to do it again,
of the participants,
they were mainly our readers.
among 11 major German media houses
28,000 people applied this time.
in the center of the picture --
in the summer of 2018
with a different opinion.
to Berlin to a special event.
for "Germany Talks."
a bus driver and boxing trainer,
of a children's help center.
we asked differently.
any impact on the participants.
to survey the participants.
that they learned something
that their viewpoints converged.
seemed also higher after the event,
they enjoyed their discussion.
enjoy their discussion,
simply, their partner didn't show up.
by many international media outlets,
a serious and secure platform.
"My Country Talks" has already been used
local and national events
or "Suomi puhuu" in Finland
we also launched "Europe Talks,"
international media partners,
to "Helsingin Sanomat" in Finland.
with a total stranger
by more than 150 global media outlets,
something like "The World Talks,"
to talk in person for hours
discussion by discussion.
we are introduced to
or in a gym or at a conference.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERJochen Wegner - Journalist
Jochen Wegner edits Zeit Online, the website of German weekly "Die Zeit," which prizes deep dives into cultural issues.
Why you should listen
Jochen Wegner never thought he could make a living out of writing, yet ultimately he found himself editing Zeit Online, one of Germany's major media websites. With a team of 150, Zeit Online delivers around-the-clock information about breaking and developing stories, distinguished by deep reporting and data visualizations. Zeit also hosts a number of Germany's most popular podcasts.
By taking journalism beyond reporting and into the realm of real-time discussion, Wegner is creating tools that could change the political climate by encouraging wide varieties of people to engage in public discourse. His "My Country Talks" platform organizes personal, one-on-one conversations between people from all over the ideological map, inviting them to find common ground between viewpoints that are at first seemingly irreconcilable.
Jochen Wegner | Speaker | TED.com