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UAS and JWAC Host World Affairs Forum 2019

This month, the Juneau World Affairs Council (JWAC) is presenting its annual World Affairs Forum at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). This year’s theme is “Modern Journalism: The Role of News Media in a Changing World.”

Juneau, Alaska

Date of Press Release: March 19, 2019

This month, the Juneau World Affairs Council (JWAC) is presenting its annual World Affairs Forum at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). This year’s theme is “Modern Journalism: The Role of News Media in a Changing World.” All presentations take place in the Egan Lecture hall at the UAS Auke Lake Campus. All speaker events are free and open to the public.

As confidence in news media declines and any story a person doesn’t like is often labeled "fake news," JWAC believes it is time for a public discussion of the media landscape. National surveys indicate that trust in news media credibility continues to decline and fewer people are accessing news. When they do, it’s often from the echo chambers of social media, perpetuating their pre-existing biases. Key politicians call journalists the “enemy of the people” and many of their constituents embrace the sentiment -with very real consequences for our nation and the world. We hope to consider a number of issues, including media ownership, the thinning line between news and opinion, and tools to help consumers become more media literate.

The Forum is an annual two-day event that gives the Juneau community an opportunity to hear multiple national experts speak on facets of a shared interest (this year: Modern Media). Presentations will last an hour, including opportunities for audience members to pose questions. Presentations will be filmed by KTOO for television broadcast and YouTube.


Friday, March 29

Session I

2–3 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Whipped into a Frenzy: Anti-Media Violence in American History and the Perilous Course Ahead — with David Noon

Donald Trump — whose image owed much to tabloid and credulous media attention in the 1980s — has cultivated a uniquely hostile relationship with the mainstream press in the four years since launching his campaign for the presidency. His rhetorical denunciations of "fake media" and journalists as "enemies of the people" have been accompanied by quite real dangers endured by reporters and staff who have been targeted for violence at rallies, through the mail, and in their offices. Anti-press violence has an extensive history in the United States, one that long predates the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump. What should we know about that past, and how does the relationship between presidents, violence, and popular culture help us to make sense of our troubling contemporary media environment?

Session II

3:15–4:15 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Disinformation, Misinformation, and “Fake News”: Understanding and Responding to the Challenge of False Information in the Digital Age — with Geysha Gonzalez

Recent events have revealed that both state and non-state actors are capable of carrying out malign information operations against democratic countries. Targeted disinformation campaigns can interfere not only in elections but our entire political discourse, often seeking to damage the foundations of democratic societies. This session will focus on defining and unpacking the problem and offering democratic solutions for civil society, governments, and platforms to address this challenge.

Session III

4:30–5:30 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

NO GOING BACK — News Media’s Painful Pursuit of Digital Native consumers — with Brian O'Donoghue

Traditional news media filled a well-understood role, holding officials accountable and, by and large, functioning as gatekeepers against misinformation. The breakdown of revenue models supporting newsgathering leaves a generation self-defined by social media exposed to manipulation by increasingly partisan channels and other special interests. A discussion weighing opportunities opened by the low cost of entry in today’s digital media circus against disturbing lessons from the classroom.

Session IV

7–8:15 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Gloom and Doom: The Media's Role in Public Disengagement on Climate Change — with Elizabeth Arnold

It's really bad. It's really really, bad. — Repetition of a narrow narrative that focuses exclusively on the impacts of climate change leaves the public with an overall sense of powerlessness. Arnold addresses this problem after studying five years of national media coverage of climate change in the Arctic, and argues for journalism that provides a more representative view of the challenges posed by a warming climate — reporting that includes responses and innovation, adaptation and resilience.

Saturday, March 30

Session V

10–11 a.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Deflecting Digital Disinformation: The Inoculating Influence of Procedural News Knowledge — with Erik Bucy

This talk reviews the importance of mainstream media knowledge and its use as a bulwark against, and inoculating influence on, the digital disinformation that is polluting the world’s media systems. Most media literacy efforts promise too much and deliver too little. Focusing on this teachable resource can give educators and policy makers a useful tool in combating the rising tide of fake news and propaganda that is choking and confusing democratic discourse.

Session VI

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Trolls, Sockpuppets, and Bots, Oh My! How Political Campaigns Have Dealt with Fake News and Propaganda Efforts — with Jessica Baldwin-Philippi

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, pundits’ and journalists’ debriefings of why Trump won and why Clinton lost have taken on a variety of topics, from claims about Clinton’s campaign being too data driven and not message-focused, to post hoc revisions of Trump’s digital prowess. The most enduring and continually returned-to retrospective has been the story of Russia-sponsored propaganda efforts led by sock puppets and bot armies. While propaganda efforts and cyber security remain necessary areas of focus, they are, in many ways, an extension of practices that digital campaigns have been dealing with for years. This talk will discuss the longer histories of trolling, sock puppets, and bots in campaign communication and internet culture, that can contextualize 2016, as well as our current political moment looking ahead to 2020.

Session VII

1–2 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Balance in a Bonkers World. The Imperative for a Solutions-Based Approach to Environmental Reporting — with Tafline Laylin

The media is desperately in need of a reboot, especially where environmental reporting is concerned. Every day the science becomes more clear: our planet — and all of its inhabitants — face extreme peril. Humanity’s continued existence is no longer guaranteed, and yet our global attention is consistently hijacked by shallow, inflammatory discourse. With 10 years of covering environmental news behind her, Tafline Laylin argues that journalists have a duty to present solutions to the myriad challenges we have created. Beyond bombastic headlines about the latest natural disaster, which often paralyze the reader's ability to act, we need to outline the path to constructive, regenerative change — and get back to balance in this bonkers world.

Session VIII

2:15-3:15 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Ownership, Markets and Journalism Quality — with Stephen Lacy

More than a dozen studies during the past three decades have found that circulation, audience, and profit are positively related to the quality of an outlet’s journalism, as defined by professional standards and consumer demand. Many factors go into shaping journalism quality, but key in this process are the resources invested in a newsroom. These resources depend on the strategies pursued by the journalism organization and the market factors (competition and demand) that interact with those strategies. This presentation will examine how ownership, market forces and quality helped to shape current conditions in journalism and how they might influence the future of journalism.

Session IX

3:30–4:30 p.m. | UAS Egan Lecture Hall

Panel Discussion led by Stephen Lacy

With all eight of our guest speakers again taking questions from the audience.

The JWAC/UAS World Affairs Forum is sponsored by UAS, AEL&P, Coeur Alaska Kensington Mine, Haight & Associates, Sealaska, and Wostmann & Associates, with support from KTOO, the Ramada by Wyndham hotel, and MRV Architects.

JWAC and UAS take no stance on any public issue, nor recommend any policy, party, viewpoint, or candidate.

A full schedule and more information about each speaker are available at on the Juneau World Affairs Council website.

Additional Resources

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509
Carl Broderson
Juneau World Affairs Council