Meet New Day: Joe Phelps and Rosemary Smith

New Day Filmmakers Joe Phelps and Rosemary Smith sit side by side on wooden chairs, smiling at the camera. Joe wears a green and white plaid shirt and Rosemary is dressed in black.

We began working together in 2018. I (Joe) spent early years in the music industry as a drummer and band leader, but later started a marketing company centered on a team-based structure and integrated marketing communications. In 2015 I launched the Getting Better Foundation, which focused on supporting media literacy education in schools and legislative efforts, building trust and resilience, and reducing polarization and racism. The film, Trust Me, was a clear next step in our mission.

I (Rosemary) joined the cause to help drive the documentary forward and lead its impact campaign. With a background in copywriting, production, advertising sales, and community involvement as Vice President and National Sales Manager of Eagle Radio Group, I was poised to step in and help the film reach a broader audience.

Although we may be living in a time when war, famine, crime, and poverty are declining, many perceive the world as getting worse. We began to see a real correlation between this widespread belief and the rise in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. Trust Me explores manipulation and misinformation at the intersection of human nature and information technology, highlighting the pressing need for media literacy. Human stories intertwine with interviews from journalists, psychiatrists, neuro-economists, and media literacy experts, pointing the way toward a positive future. The film shows how an avalanche of biased news and misinformation undermines trust in society and breeds racism, political polarization, and mental health disorders. Trust Me shows how to consume media in order to build critical thinking skills people can use to become more resilient to misinformation. The film takes audiences to the front lines of the information battle that’s taking place in our society.

Trust Me differs from other films about negative impacts of social media and technology, in that it provides tangible actions people can take to defend themselves. The real-life personal stories, filmed across the globe, demonstrate our human weakness and how progress is being stalled due to the distraction of an abundance of mis- and dis-information.

Since NATO and the U.S. State Department have declared media literacy as a strategic defense initiative, our film has screened at several important conferences including the World Media Literacy Symposium, the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), and UNESCO’s Global and Media Information Week. It is scheduled to screen at the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Library Association (ALA), and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Educators, librarians, administrators, and health officials agree that Trust Me could not be more timely. We need critical media literacy in order to address mental health concerns, bring communities and families together, and help preserve democracy.

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