On February 15th, scholars, students, and professionals united at the "Speaking Truth to Power: Media Capture, Disinformation, and Democracy" conference. Intended to encourage discussion on the relationship between media and democracy, the conference was co-hosted by Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies (SGIS), and the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA). SGIS’s ongoing partnership with NED was launched in December 2016 with the Mark Helmke Postdoctoral Scholarship on Global Media, Development, and Democracy.
The conference opened with introductory remarks to a full room from SGIS Dean Lee Feinstein and Andrea Vega Yugico, an IU student and former CIMA intern. “Captured Media, Captured Democracies,” the first panel, focused primarily on the relationship between the internet, youth, and democracy, especially in Russia. Panelists included: Natalia Arno, President of the Free Russia Foundation; Shanthi Kalathil, Director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at NED; Gábor Scheiring, political economist and research associate at the University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Progressive Hungary Foundation, and a member of the Hungarian Parliament from 2010 to 2014; and Elizabeth A. Stein, the inaugural Mark Helmke Postdoctoral Scholar on Global Media, Development and Democracy and an expert on the role of media and political power in Brazil. The second panel, "On the Frontlines of Disinformation and Democracy," focused on the trend whereby media outlets are being owned by fewer and fewer people; worldwide, governments, politicians, and oligarchs are buying more and more media outlets and transforming them to reflect their own views. Panelists included Aleksander Dardeli, Executive Vice President at the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX); Maxine Tanya Hamada, Reagan-Fascell Fellow at NED; Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russian and Eurasia at NED; and Marco Larizza, Senior Public-Sector Specialist in the Governance Global Practice at the World Bank.
The second panel, "On the Frontlines of Disinformation and Democracy," focused on the trend of media outlets being owned by fewer people; worldwide governments, politicians, and oligarchs are buying more and more media outlets and transforming them to shape their own views. Panelists included Aleksander Dardeli, Executive Vice President at International Research and Exchanges (IREX); Maxine Tanya Hamada, Reagan-Fascell Fellow at NED; Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russian and Eurasia at NED; and Marco Larizza, Senior Public-Sector Specialist in the Governance Global Practice at the World Bank.
Following the second panel, Dean Feinstein and Carl Gershman, President of NED, gave their closing remarks. On February 16, Miriam Lanskoy held a discussion about civil society in Eurasia, the work of NED there, and careers in the NGO sector for students involved in the Russian Studies Workshop, the Russian and East European Institute, and/or the School of Global and International Studies. There were about a dozen participants in the morning discussion.
A video of the conference can be streamed on CIMA’s website:
Clare Angeroth Franks is a first-year M.A. student in REEI.
More information about the National Endowment for Democracy and the Center for International Media Assistance can be found by clicking the respective images below: