Catherine Neilan

“This pandemic has amplified our toxic culture wars, and monologues masquerading as debate. If we don't start listening to each other soon, I worry our democracy will fail.”

Catherine Neilan (she/her/hers)

Homebase: London
Job title: Politics Live Editor

Catherine Neilan is a Politics Live Editor at the Telegraph, where she is responsible for covering breaking news and finding exclusives from Westminster and beyond. She has nearly 15 years of journalism experience, covering a range of issues and sectors including social affairs, retail, and the media. She earned her master's degree in International Journalism from City University, and a bachelor's degree in Theology from Bristol University. She is married and has two young children, which means she can't indulge in long-distance running as much as she used to, but makes do with chasing the boys around London's museums instead. Catherine lived and worked in China for two years, and still misses the shui jaio, but not the smog.

Project description

Democratic dialogue is currently going through a tough time. Various groups of people are becoming increasingly entrenched by traditional and current forms of media, to the point where important conversations between groups are not happening.

Catherine’s project is designed to find a new way for people to talk about politics and current affairs without slipping into lazy labels and toxic terminology, which is often accompanied by echo chambers (environments where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own).

The project is called Common Ground. It will bring together people from various different backgrounds to discuss current news and circle through specific topics, such as COVID-19, Brexit, Black Lives Matter or the Presidential Elections to name a few. Participants are encouraged to listen to each other during the respectful discussions, acknowledging that while they will not always agree, they can understand where someone else is coming from. They will also read and discuss various articles (that did not appear in the headlines) from a broad spectrum of media.

Each session will be recorded and shared with the general public through a website alongside the articles that have been discussed. Participants will fill out a wide-ranging questionnaire before and after the series of debates, to track any change in attitude or opinion during the course of the project.

Explore what we do

Confront the past

Combat antisemitism

Protect minorities

Strengthen democracy

Reinforce critical thinking

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