Defending Democracy: What the Media Can Do to Protect the Truth and Defeat Discrimination

VIRTUAL EVENT: NOON to 1:30 P.M., TUESDAYS, MARCH 9 AND 16

The 2020 presidential election and its aftermath have prompted a two-part statewide journalism summit that will explore what the media can do to help the public spot disinformation and understand journalistic practices.

Six Pennsylvania journalism-based organizations have organized the summit, scheduled for two consecutive Tuesdays, March 9 and 16: The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and its foundation, and Thomas Jefferson University's Communications Program.

The organizers believe U.S. democracy is in great peril if the country continues to operate with alternative sets of facts, something that culminated with the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and is evident in the continued fraud claims about the presidential election in Pennsylvania despite the failure of multiple lawsuits.

Both sessions – targeted to media managers, journalists, academics and other practitioners – will begin at noon and will include breakout sessions to react to the information provided, share projects and start a discussion on next steps. Sessions will last 90 minutes.

Topics to be explored include how the media's role can be explained to help the public better evaluate the information they read and see; what media across the state are doing already and can share; and how to hold Twitter, Facebook and other social media responsible for information posted on their platforms.

A major component of the summit: The NewsGuard Pennsylvania Media Trust Project commissioned by the Lenfest Institute. It will examine the issue of trust and integrity for media coverage in and about Pennsylvania. The project will utilize trust ratings, new research and reporting from NewsGuard, data about social media engagement from NewsWhip, and resources collated from NewsGuard. The research will identify sources of misinformation and disinformation operating from Pennsylvania or being consumed by state residents and recommend best practices for Pennsylvania news organizations.

Lead speakers:

First session, March 9:
Led by Kathleen Carley, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research and director of the Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The Center is a Knight-funded initiative launched in 2019 to study disinformation, hate speech and extremism online, how to detect them, how they spread, and how to counter their impact.

Second session, March 16:
NewsGuard's CEO Gordon Crovitz (former Publisher of The Wall Street Journal) and NewsGuard general manager Matt Skibinski will release and report on the findings of NewsGuard Pennsylvania Media Trust Report and then lead a Q&A on remedies and best practices in addressing misinformation and distrust in media.

The summit is free, and registration is now available. Questions and more information: pressclubwpa@yahoo.com.