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Reimagining Political Debate: What Happens When People Really Listen

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Speaker: Gro Engen

Moderator: Milica Pesic

December 4th, 2020, 16:55-17:25 CET

Written by Tereza Patricie Prokopová

Key words: Debate, Politicians, Constructive Journalism, Immigration, TV Show

Journalism has been going through continuous development especially when it comes to a new way of grasping information and leading a debate. A constant problem that occurred frequently was dealing with politicians repeating routine sentences when attending a debate. This provoked a strong reaction among Norweigan journalists that decided to organize a brand new format of debating, including politicians as well as the public.

The project or approach to be discussed in the session

  • politicians present only speeches prepared beforehand

  • they do not answer spontaneous questions (only repeat the already given ones), also argue a lot

  • new debate format has been presented

  • controversial topics are presented (immigration, gender equality, abortion)

  • no show host is needed

  • low key studio to create a more informal setting

  • attending (2 politicians and 2 audience members) can’t argue, they must listen and take into consideration opinions of the other side

  • a constructive debate is therefore created

Evidence of impact

It was proved that young people showed lower interest in politics. Nevertheless 1.4 Million people watched the show (most of them were on linear streaming) and a majority of them were aged under 29.

Limitations, risks of the approach provided by the speaker

A problem might occur when the people participating start to behave in an aggressive manner. The show itself should be led in a calm and rational way which is why participants are instructed on how to behave. They are encouraged to behave and talk naturally. If they however do not comply, the footage must be edited afterwards.


1. The format of debates must alternate in order to attract more people to politics.

2. Debates can be led without pointless arguing and constant disputes. When led in a calm and ordered manner, the audience benefits more from it.

3. It is important to discuss delicate topics in order to pull down the wall of prejudice among different social groups.


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