College Students and the First Amendment

A Brookings Institution survey reveals that college students may not be completely comfortable with freedom of expression on campus – or fully familiar with what the First Amendment protects.

A Brookings Institution survey reveals that college students may not be completely comfortable with freedom of expression on campus – or fully familiar with what the First Amendment protects.

US college campuses may be a harbinger of evolving American attitudes on free speech, hate speech and the First Amendment. Survey research conducted for the Brookings Institution reveals sharp divisions by political affiliation, gender and type of university over what speech is acceptable and what isn’t.

The research also demonstrates college students may not know what the First Amendment says.

Regarding hate speech, 44 percent of the 1,500 current undergraduate students at US four-year colleges and universities who were interviewed in the latter part of August, said the US Constitution does not protect it, while 50 percent said it does. (It does.) Students identifying as Republicans, private college undergraduates and males were more likely to say there is constitutional protection for hate speech than Democrats, public college students and women. The gap was largest between men and women. Fifty-one percent of men said hate speech is protected as opposed to only 31 percent of women.

When it comes to controversial speakers on campus, 62 percent of students identifying as Democrats think it is acceptable to shout down an objectionable speaker, contrasted with only 39 percent of Republican students.

There is no difference in attitudes by public and private college students, but again males and females sharply disagree. Fifty-seven percent of men agree it is okay to disrupt a controversial speaker compared to 47 percent of women.

Jason Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, said the most disturbing aspect of this finding is that overall 51 percent of students find it acceptable to shout down a speaker they find offensive. In response to a separate question, 19 percent of all students thought it was acceptable for student groups to use violence to block a speaker. Again, there was a significant gender difference, with 30 percent of males saying it was okay to use violence contrasted to 10 percent of females.

“The survey results establish what has been clear anecdotally to anyone who has been observing campus dynamics in recent years: Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on US campuses,” he says.

Villasenor attributes student views to a lack of knowledge about what the First Amendment permits. For example, he posed a question about whether colleges are legally required to offset an offensive speaker with someone with an opposing view. Sixty-two percent of student respondents agreed colleges are required to balance offensive or hurtful speech with the other side, though Villasenor said there is no such constitutional requirement.

“Many of the respondents appear to be confusing good event design, which under some circumstances can indeed benefit from the presentation of counterpoints, with the completely different issue of what compliance with the First Amendment requires,” Villasenor says.

He also expressed dismay at student response to his question about whether they preferred a college atmosphere that prohibited offensive viewpoints on campus as opposed to an open learning environment that exposed students to a range of viewpoints. Fifty-three percent of students expressed a preference for a more sheltered college atmosphere. On this question, the widest gap was between Democrats and Republicans/Independents. Sixty-one percent of students identifying as Democrats favored limiting exposure to offensive speech, while only 47 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Independents shared that preference.

Villasenor believes college faculty should assume greater responsibility for “fostering freedom of expression on their campuses.” He is doubtful that will happen because he suspects faculty members may share the same viewpoints as students.

He suggests starting earlier in middle and high schools to teach students about the First Amendment. “We don’t need to turn students into experts on constitutional law, but we can do a better job of giving them a fuller explanation of the scope of the First Amendment,” Villasenor says.

Economic Inequality Through a Racial Lens

Perceptions that racial economic inequality have disappeared are glaringly wrong, which explains part of the public debate disconnect that it has disappeared.

Perceptions that racial economic inequality have disappeared are glaringly wrong, which explains part of the public debate disconnect that it has disappeared.

Racial bias is generally viewed through the lens of race. A new Yale University study shows wealthy white people view racial equality is a fact, despite data and perceptions of low-income blacks that suggests quite the opposite.

Analyzing US Census data, Yale researchers found African Americans are the only racial group still making less money than in 2000.

Jennifer Richeson, a Yale psychology professor who co-wrote the study, said with understatement, “Our views about racial progress and economic equality are fairly inconsistent with reality. She added, “The misperception of improving racial equality is itself an obstacle to actually achieving the progress that everyone seems to be celebrating.”

The improvement people across racial and income barriers perceive is actually wishful thinking. The Washington Post reported, “The average black household made 60 percent of what white households made in 2016 and less than half of what Asians made, according to census data. For every $100 of wealth accumulated by a white family, a black family has little more than $5 – a gap just as wide as it was 50 years ago, according to federal statistics cited by the Yale researchers.”

“Wealthy whites were also the most inaccurate in estimating racial economic equality in the present,” The Post reported. “Higher-status individuals – i.e. wealthy whites – are especially motivated to perceive society as fair so they can justify their elevated status as merit-based rather than resulting from luck or discriminatory systems, researchers said.”

Richeson tells The Post, “We need to stop deceiving ourselves. It could be a lack of information, but there’s also a role of willful blindness. Wealth inequality based on race is baked into this country’s founding, and we cannot handle it. It is not that these individuals don’t work hard enough or are genetically inferior.”

It would be easy to be pessimistic about the Yale study findings, which cited “continued discrimination in housing and bank loans [that] sabotages black Americans' ability to accumulate wealth. But there’s no real policy push to fix that, because most people don’t see the extent of the racial wealth gap to begin with.” You won’t fix what you don’t think is broken.

Passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation has been deemed by some members of US society as the cures to discrimination. “It is not surprising Americans who don’t have much contact with other races and incomes have drawn false conclusions about other people's economic experiences,” according to the study. “Wealthy blacks have more racially and economically diverse social networks compared to wealthy whites, who have little understanding of the economic outcomes of most black Americans.”

The disconnect rears its head periodically, often in response to jury verdicts that acquit white police officers who shoot black men, as happened this week in Missouri.

“So many of us grew up hearing the story about America that basically said there was slavery and then that was fixed. Martin Luther King marched and then that was fixed. And then we had Obama,” Richeson said. “That’s a nice, clean story that makes everyone feel good even though it’s shockingly inaccurate."

What Birth Rates Say about Immigration

Data compiled by Pew Research shows births by immigrant mothers helped maintain overall birth rates in half of the states and offset declines in births by US-born mothers, including in Oregon and Washington.

Data compiled by Pew Research shows births by immigrant mothers helped maintain overall birth rates in half of the states and offset declines in births by US-born mothers, including in Oregon and Washington.

A lot of research we read about centers on what people think. Some of the most informative research focuses on what they actually do.

A good example is fresh findings by Pew Research on the impact of births by immigrant mothers on US birthrates. The data show that in 2015 immigrant mothers accounted for more than three in 10 births in California, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey and Maryland. Nineteen percent of births in Oregon and 27 percent of births in Washington were by immigrant mothers.

Immigrant mothers includes any childbearing woman not born in the United States.

Whether you think that’s good news or bad news, it is real news that has a significant effect on overall US birthrates. From 1990 to 2015, Pew found overall birth rates increased in half of the states and declined in the other half. Oregon and Washington registered slight increases in birthrates over that period, according to Pew’s data.

From a demographic point of view, births by immigrant mothers from 1990 to 2015 helped to sustain the birth rates in many states with declining birth rates by US-born mothers, including Oregon, Washington and California. The only state with a notable increase in births by US-born mothers was Nevada. There were moderate increases in Utah and Idaho and modest increases in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. The states with the largest decreases were in the Rust Belt and New England.

The sons and daughters of immigrant mothers, whether in the United States legally or illegally, born here are US citizens. In political discourse, these offspring sometimes are conflated with people who immigrate to the United States. The percent of the US population that is foreign-born stands around 13 percent, according to Pew Research data, but is projected to keep rising to nearly 18 percent by 2050.

A useful way to see the impact of immigration over time is to assess second and third generations of immigrants. Pew Research says the number of first, second and third generation immigrants in the United States has topped 300 million people and could reach 400 million by 2050.

For the majority of America, immigrants have helped to maintain or grow populations and workforces in the face of declining birth rates by US-born mothers. Despite the economic benefits of immigration, these trend lines have created cultural and racial fissures that are animating political debate in the nation. It also has made it easier for Americans who feel disenfranchised to point a blaming finger at an increasing number of people, many of whom, it turns out, are also Americans by birth.

 

Why Health Care Market Research Makes Sense

Listening to patients is what health care providers do every day to inform their diagnosis, so it makes sense for them to turn to market research to find out what patients like and dislike about their practice, which can inform their marketing and PR strategies.

Listening to patients is what health care providers do every day to inform their diagnosis, so it makes sense for them to turn to market research to find out what patients like and dislike about their practice, which can inform their marketing and PR strategies.

Marketing in the health care space is still in its infancy, but that doesn’t make the industry immune to more generalized marketing maladies.

Social media shaming can challenge reputations. Negative provider reviews can deflect new patients or patient referrals. Mind-boggling bills can befuddle and frustrate.

Perhaps most at risk are doctors and providers that fail to recognize or acknowledge the role of marketing in a successful contemporary health care business – or the pitfalls of not marketing.

While convenience and price are typically drivers for other kinds of business, health care providers increasingly rise or fall based on credibility and experience. People will drive extra miles to see a physician they trust or view as experienced, even if it costs more because that physician is out of their health care network. That has made reputations and patient reviews more significant factors in health care marketing efforts.

However, getting good marketing or PR isn’t the same as running to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. Health care marketing has emerged as its own marketing subcategory, driven by patient privacy protections, governmental regulations and a bewildering health insurance marketplace. Patients aren’t persuaded by a news article or a celebrity endorsement. They put more trust in word-of-mouth validation from other patients.

If reputations and provider reviews play such an important role in patient decision-making, then it behooves health care providers to understand how they are regarded and why they get positive and negative ratings. Put another way, they need some quality market research before trying to market themselves. If you know what patients like and dislike about your practice or clinic, you can concentrate on the positives and correct the negatives.

Market research can take many forms. For a practice with an existing base of patients, it could be as simple as asking for feedback – from how patients are greeted at reception through the bedside manner of physicians, nurses and lab technicians. A more aggressive version of this approach would be to include former patients in the survey.

Tom Eiland and Dana Tierney specialize in health care market research that protects reputations and informs client marketing and PR efforts.

Tom Eiland and Dana Tierney specialize in health care market research that protects reputations and informs client marketing and PR efforts.

Focus groups can be an excellent market research tool. The group dynamic of a focus group can provide illuminating depth in both the positive and negative qualities of a health care practice, not to mention the language they use in talking about their health care needs and concerns.

Providers can pay attention to online reviews. Reviews may skew more toward negative comments, but still offer teachable moments of where and how to improve a practice. When false or misleading information is posted, providers can take steps to correct it.

Secondary research can be eye-opening, especially research that shows how providers successfully build trust with their patients and transfer that trust to potential patients. Secondary research can highlight trends in health care marketing and underscore how and when patients look for credible information.

Market research would be wise when implementing new procedures or introducing new technologies, such as telemedicine consultations. Treating patients as partners can build trust, especially if providers listen to concerns and adapt their procedures accordingly.

The point of market research is to inform marketing and PR efforts. Learning what patients like and what they don’t and where they turn for trusted referral information can be invaluable in designing a marketing and PR strategy. And you need a strategy before you start communicating.

Health care market research tends to follow the general pattern of downplaying flashy promises and focusing on concrete benefits. It could be as simple as assuring patients they won’t have long delays in scheduling a visit or cooling their heels in a waiting room for a delayed appointment.

As health care providers should realize, market research benchmarks the status of a reputation, so you can tell if marketing and PR is bending the curve in the right direction or just flapping in the wind. In the end, market research is all about listening to people. That’s something health care professionals can appreciate.

Americans Trust British, Public Broadcasting News Most

A recent survey shows Americans trust British news sources more than US-based news sources from The New York Times to their local news outlets. The exception is public broadcasting, which enjoys a high level of trust.

A recent survey shows Americans trust British news sources more than US-based news sources from The New York Times to their local news outlets. The exception is public broadcasting, which enjoys a high level of trust.

Three of the four most trusted news sources by Americans are British. Three of the top six are public television and radio. The seventh most trusted news source is also British.

Americans tend to trust British new sources more than US-based news sources, except for public television. Social media, the Internet and President Trump were rated among untrustworthy news sources.

Based on a survey of more than 8,700 people conducted by the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute, the most trusted news source for Americans is The Economist. The highest ranking US-based publication, in eighth place, is the Wall Street Journal.

On the flip side, the least trusted source of news was Occupy Democrats, a self-described counterbalance to the Tea Party. Following close behind in untrustworthiness were BuzzFeed, Breitbart, social media and President Trump, presumably referencing his Twitter posts.

The London-based BBC is the fourth most trusted news source, while CBS, NBC and ABC find themselves in the untrustworthy category, along with CNN, Fox and Huffpo.

The survey was undertaken in collaboration with 28 media organizations that invited participation. Participants self-selected and tended to live near the news outlets that promoted the survey.

That may account for appearance of the Dallas Morning NewsSeattle TimesDenver Post and Kansas City Star in the trusted category. The Los Angeles Times was in a dead heat with the Wall Street Journal for trustworthiness, but The Washington Post and The New York Times were down the list. Politico had a higher rating than the Post and the Times was followed by USA Today.

The results are a bit surprising since the political orientation of the participants listed to the liberal side of spectrum.

“The survey showed that politically liberal respondents were more trusting than conservatives, while Caucasians were more likely than non-whites to have confidence in the media,” according to a story about the survey by MarketWatch. “The level of trust remained fairly steady among people who identify themselves as liberals or moderates regardless of their age. Among conservatives, trust dropped off sharply with age.”

The survey comes as Trump and others deplore what they call “fake news,” which makes it ironic that many news consumers find him untrustworthy as a new source, ranked near the Internet and social media.

 

Younger Voters Eclipsed Older Voters in 2016 Election

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

The 2016 general election will go down in history for a lot of things, including the first time Millennial and Gen X voters eclipsed older voters.

Based on an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by Pew Research, 69.6 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 51 voted in the 2016 election. Baby Boomers and older generations cast 67.9 million ballots.

More young people become eligible to vote while older people die or emigrate. While the result isn’t surprising, it marks a milepost in US demography when younger, next-generation voters become a majority, which will influence how political campaigns are focused.

Conventional wisdom is that younger voters lean Democratic. Numbers bear that out, but also is a hint that a chunk of Millennials are more conservative than Gen X or Baby Boomers were at the same age. It also may be true, as evidenced by strong support among younger voters for the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, that younger Democrats are more liberal than their older counterparts.

NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben reports they may be even deeper polarization among Millennials than previous generations. If so, that could complicate any efforts to lower the volume on political discourse and exert more energy looking for common ground.

In addition to greater political polarization, Millennials overall have fewer religious ties and are better educated. They are less white and more Latino. There is also a question about their motivation to vote. Gen Xers and Millennials as age cohorts outgrew Boomers and older generations before 2016, but voter participation rates lagged behind. Pew found only half of Millennials voted in the 2016 election compared to two-thirds for older cohorts, which may have played a role in tipping the presidential election to Donald Trump.

What bears watching is how Millennials settle in as voters. Exit polls in the 2012 presidential election showed GOP challenger Mitt Romney beating President Obama by 2 percentage points among whites ages 18 to 29 with at least a four-year college degree. Four years later, Hillary Clinton beat Trump among college-educated white people by 15 percentage points. Trump scored well with young white voters who identified as evangelicals or lived in rural areas or states with large white majorities. Clinton’s large margin of votes from younger votes was canceled out when many Millennials lost interest after the presidential primaries or voted for third-party candidates.