Digital Media Conundrum: Can Journalism Save Democracy in the Age of Disinformation?

Melissa Toman (SIPA'22)
November 24, 2021

Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul and the International Press Institute recently hosted a discussion titled “The Digital Media Conundrum: Can Journalism Save Democracy in the Age of Disinformation?” The event was moderated by Emre Kizilkaya, esteemed journalist and Vice President of the National Committee at the Vienna-based International Press Institute, and welcomed presenters Professor Tirşe Erbaysal Filibeli of Bahçeşehir University and Professor Todd Gitlin of Columbia Journalism School.

The purpose of this event was to address fake news, digital echo chambers, and the impact of disinformation on fundamental rights and freedoms. As the sharing of knowledge has grown and reached broader audiences, the unintended consequence of the spread of misinformation and disinformation has also developed. This issue now raises the question of how can society contain disinformation without undermining the ability of knowledge to spread?

Journalism is an industry committed to the truth, a concept that dates back to the Enlightenment. Similarly, identifying truth is a crucial concept to democracy. However, democracies are not sufficient enough to contain disinformation due to institutional pressures. In order to eliminate disinformation, institutions will require reforms to give advantages to truth-tellers and address the relationship between disinformation and power. 

The rise of disinformation is a crisis that needs to be addressed around the world. This discussion specifically addresses journalism in the US and in Turkey and their relationships to the countries’ governments. The presenters share their thoughts on hopes for the future of journalism and its ability to properly engage democracy to promote the truth. To hear the full discussion, click here.