The U.S. Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) Media for Democracy Forum held on May 7, 2019 at the U.S. Institute of Peace brought together media experts, practitioners, opinion leaders, and policy makers to identify solutions to the biggest threats facing free media and to explore the leading and relevant information technology trends in journalism today.
With USAGM and the rest of the journalism community having just commemorated World Press Freedom Day on May 3, a key theme throughout the day-long event was how news media can stand shoulder to shoulder with democratic institutions throughout the world to support universal values and good governance.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), U.S. Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), technology policy expert and author Alec Ross, and USAGM Chief Executive Officer John F. Lansing addressed forum attendees at a critical juncture as both news media and democratic institutions are increasingly scrutinized and challenged around the world.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “That’s something that America should remember: that our principles can tear down walls. America should consistently be a voice for freedom, human rights, and democracy.” He continued. “Because that truth is powerful and it can transform the world. That’s where USAGM comes into play.”
U.S. Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) noted, “… it was the 1st amendment that talks about a free press. If you lose this, you lose everything else. Our founding fathers understood that.”
USAGM CEO John F. Lansing remarked, “Like defense, development, and diplomacy, U.S. international media- accurate, balanced and true- is an essential part of our standing on the world stage.”
The Media for Democracy Forum also brought together representatives from National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, The Atlantic Council, The Hudson Institute, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, IREX, CNN, Deutsche Welle, University of Southern California, among other prominent government and civil society experts and groups, as well as the five USAGM networks—Voice of America (VOA), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN).
Former President of NBC News and USAGM Senior Advisor and Strategist Steve Capus delivered closing remarks.
By identifying best practices and opportunities for collaboration across sectors, the inaugural forum helped to forge a community of practice in support of publicly-supported, civically-focused international media. A forthcoming white paper will draw from the forum’s conversations to identify opportunities for cooperation and to propose next steps to energize the ways in which media and technology can help bolster the world’s democratic societies.