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Symposium to tackle questions of reliable news in a digital world

August 19, 2013

In a digital world where everyone can create media, what – and who – can we trust for reliable news and information?

Leading media figures from the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland will tackle this question, and more, in a one-day symposium Sept. 16 at Dublin City University (DCU). The symposium is being hosted by DCU and Arizona State University in association with the New America Foundation. Information is available at:

“The goal is to get people thinking harder about the opportunities and nuances that arise when we do news in a digital age,” said Dan Gillmor, founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Gillmor is co-convener of the event with DCU’s Kevin Rafter, senior lecturer in political communication and journalism, and associate dean for research and former political journalist.

ASU and DCU struck up a strategic alliance as global partners in 2006 based on their shared values of innovation and entrepreneurship, technology-enhanced learning and knowledge enterprise development, as well as research and discovery that benefit the public good. ASU President Michael M. Crow said teaming up with a select group of global partners, such as DCU and Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey, has been an important step in engaging internationally.

“These universities are like-minded, with the same spirit and desire to innovate as we have at ASU,” Crow said. “They are younger institutions that are entrepreneurial, like us, as opposed to more established institutions, such as Oxford. Lots of universities sign agreements with each other, but our focus is on building comprehensive, long-term relationships.”

Crow added that DCU boasts a legacy of dynamic leadership, having a vision similar to ASU’s: “President Brian MacCraith and I work well together because we share many of the same aspirations for our institutions. It’s a synergetic partnership that benefits us both.”

The two presidents will bookend the news symposium with opening and closing remarks.

Headlining the daylong media conversation are high-profile journalists, including Leonard Downie Jr. – former executive editor and current vice president-at-large of The Washington Post, and Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School – and Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC’s Global News division. Kevin Bakhurst, managing editor of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, and David McRedmond, CEO of TV3 Group in Ireland, are two well-known Irish media experts also taking part.

Gillmor said that using social media bears the same responsibility for journalists as they have always had on behalf of traditional media outlets.

“Social media is one of many ways for journalists to build trust,” Gillmor explained. “However, as in the past, it takes time to earn public trust, and it can be forfeited fairly quickly.”

Gillmor, author of Mediactive, said today’s abundance of information can be as confusing for journalists as it is for their audiences: “Welcome to the era of radically democratized and decentralized creation and distribution, where almost anyone can publish and find almost anything that others have published.”

During the symposium, Gillmor will lead a conversation about the need for media literacy in a world of unlimited information. He characterized the problem as a supply and demand equation.

“My goal with this session is to focus on the demand side,” he said. “If we don’t have better demand from the public for reliable information, we won’t have a better supply.”

In his book, Gillmor notes that we aren’t helpless in sorting the good from the bad information: “Many valuable tools and techniques are emerging from the same collision of technology and media that has created the confusion. And don’t forget the most important tools of all – your brain and curiosity.”

Other sessions during the Dublin symposium will ask what is wrong with a partisan media, moderated by Karlin Lillington of The Irish Times, and how social media impacts our democracy, led by Jane Suiter of DCU’s School of Communications.

Other moderators and speakers participating in the symposium include the following:

• Sarah Carey, Evening Herald
• Andy Carvin, National Public Radio
• Richard Curran, Irish Independent
• Esra Dogramaci, London School of Economics
• Aine Lawlor, RTÉ
• Pat Leahy, Sunday Business Post
• Justin Lewis, Cardiff University
• Karlin Lillington, The Irish Times
• Amanda Michel, Guardian US
• Stewart Purvis, City University, London
• Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine
• Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes blog
• Jane Suiter, Dublin City University