Why Listening Between the Lines?


Listening Between the Lines, Inc. is a non-profit educational partnership incorporated in 2001. Our mission is: to provide tools for improving understanding and communication across artificial divisions of race, ethnicity, nationality, culture and class, by producing media projects that promote active involvement and result in positive lasting societal change. Traditional mass media treat audiences as passive observers of distant events. LBL’s approach is designed to move listeners into direct engagement with the issues and each other, by combining audio media’s proven power to engage, with the Internet’s potential for “bottom-up” exchange between informed citizens, experts and policy makers.

Our principles include:

  • Honoring the perspective and experience of all historical participants by having them articulate their views in their own words and, where possible, their own voices;
  • Using only historically-documented, non-fictional texts and testimonies, including, official reports, diaries, letters, memoirs etc. We do not create scenes or ‘reconstruct’ dialogue. When ‘fictive’ cultural texts and artifacts, i.e., songs, novels, political propaganda are quoted, they must be more-or-less contemporaneous to the events described, historically significant in forming our view of the events, and clearly noted as such;
  • Trusting our projects’ listener/participants to reach their own judgments as to the forces operating on each historical actor, and the demands of justice and fairness.

Listening Between the Lines and its partners support participatory democracy and citizen involvement, through public discussions and dialogues.  We have conducted a number of public forums based on our documentaries. Please contact us to join these exciting developments.

We’ve committed ourselves for more than twenty years to exploring the historical, cultural, economic and social contexts of today’s problems; and to presenting the various and opposing perspectives of the participants, witnesses and experts.

Our programs are designed to develop:

  • Knowledge of each other’s expressions, perceptions, and values;
  • Critical skills for assessing and understanding both inter-personal communications and mass-media productions, and to explore complex controversial issues in-depth; and
  • Understanding of the historical, cultural, economic and social roots of current issues,

…in order to increase users’ empathy and active involvement in public democratic processes.

We produce open-narrative, question- (rather than answer)-oriented documentaries, which invite listeners to evolve their own informed judgments, rather than assert the narrator/ writer-producer’s authoritative position. Accordingly, our programs include an extraordinary range of eyewitness and authoritative perspectives, witnessing events and debating interpretations. We’ve found the resulting documentaries are acclaimed for and extremely effective at prompting sincere, deep, mind-opening dialogue.

In short, we want to work with you to tell the stories that made us what we are, stretch our comfort zones, and learn to talk back to mass media, and through them, with each other. And so finally, we encourage you to join in our work of interactive, dialogic collective processes of witnessing, communicating, problem-solving and production.

Visit the Register page to find out more about how to participate in Listening Between the Lines’ work.

You can invest in Listening Between the Lines’ work, in general, or to a specific project.

Any excess proceeds from completing and distributing Between Civil War and Civil Rights will go, first, to compensating the many gifted people who donated their skills and knowledge to earlier stages of this project; and second, to funding and developing more projects and groups compatible with Listening Between the Lines’ mission.