Press freedom in the twenty-first century
5 NOVEMBER, NEWSEUM, PENNSYLVANIA AVE, WASHINGTON, DC
Produced in association with, and hosted by, Newseum, and sponsored by News Corp, this one-day event provided an opportunity for speakers from the US and Europe to explore the state of press freedom today.
Taming the messenger: The new threat to press freedom
Across the Western world, it is no longer just governments that see a free and rowdy press as a bad thing. So, increasingly, do many ostensibly liberal campaigners, and even many writers and journalists. There are many new threats to press freedom; not only laws, but also conformism, pressure from reformers, and a tendency to blame tabloid media in particular for every social and intellectual ill of our age. The modern, democratic West was born from the efforts of people who believed passionately in a free press - from England's Levellers to America's founding fathers to Europe's men of the Enlightenment - yet today, it is often the upper echelons of Western intellectual society who feel most uncomfortable with the ideal of a free press.
Why has press freedom fallen so far out of favour? Why are some people so riled by the existence of muck‐raking, trouble-causing papers and other outlets, when that is the very business hacks have been involved in for centuries? If the modern West sprung from a renewed belief in freedom - including, crucially, press freedom - does today's discomfort with a free press tell us something about the corrosion of Western values more broadly? Can we recover the Jeffersonian view of press freedom being essential to democracy and stability?
Brendan O'Neill Editor, spiked
Nick Gillespie Editor-in-chief, Reason.com
Ray Suarez Host, Inside Story
Courtney C Radsch Advocacy director, Committee to Protect Journalists
The press in the twenty-first century: are we all journalists now?
With the advent of new technologies and the rise of citizen journalism, it is often said that 'We are all journalists now'. Does this make the press obsolete – or does it make it even more important, as an entity which adheres (ideally) to old rules about objectivity and fairness and thus might prove itself crucial in an era when all sorts of views, both reliable and unreliable, can be swiftly expressed? In an era when media outlets can be set up in a matter of minutes, and publication can be done with the press of a button, what happens to the idea of truth? Who decides what is true and what isn’t? Often, media narratives are subjected to constant debate and interrogation by the new citizen journalists – is truth relative in such circumstances, or should we still trust the established press to give us a truer version of events than others?
How can the old press embrace the new technologies and developments while at the same time maintaining its devotion to investigation, analysis and story‐uncovering? To those who are committed to press freedom, the speed and ease with which anyone can publish these days is surely a good thing – but what, if anything, needs to be done to maintain quality in such circumstances and to encourage discrimination between sources so that the man in the street, faced with so many press and media choices, is still able to ascertain a clear picture of the world?
Further speakers to be announced.
Gene Policinski COO, Newseum Institute
Simon Marks President, Feature News Story
Mandy Jenkins newsroom director, Storyful
Jane Hall associate professor and journalist
Comment, analysis and more…
A collection of articles, podcasts and interviews exploring press freedom.
Time and Location
555 Pennsylvania Avenue