IB Global Politics students represented Great River School at Global Minnesota's Great Decisions Conference focused on Media and Foreign Policy at Minneapolis Central Library on November 9. We heard lectures by Foreign Service diplomat Tom Hanson, who spoke about foreign policy in an era of Twitter Diplomacy, and professor Susan Moeller, who spoke about media literacy and discussed how statements made by US politicians influence how states use violence in other countries.
We also heard from a panel of journalists who discussed press freedom in their home countries of Hong Kong, Ecuador and Venezuela, New Zealand, Nigeria and Albania. One interesting point from the Albanian journalist was that there are 900 portals of media information in Albania yet only 100 of those outlets are controlled by trained journalists. So the three million people of Albania are highly vulnerable to misinformation or false claims since much national information is not vetted by journalistic integrity. Finally, we heard from Mary Stucky, founder of Round Earth Media, which connects foreign and local reporters to gather and share the stories of the "quiet, untidy corners of the world."
Some of our favorite quotes from the conference:
• John Stuart Mill's warning about the "deep slumber of a decided opinion" (1859)
• "When foreign offices were ruled by autocracies or oligarchies, the danger of war was in sinister purpose. When foreign affairs are ruled by democracies, the danger of war will be in mistaken beliefs. The world will be gainer by the change, for, while there is no human way to prevent a kin from having a bad heart, there is a human way to prevent a people from having an erroneous opinion." - Elihu Root, US Secretary of State (1922)
• "In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world, the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true." - Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)
• "We live in a world erected through the stories we tell." - George Gerbner (1998)
• "As tempting as it is for Americans to focus attention inward as American democracy feels like it is imploding, it is vital to remember that the United States is still a power that reaches into lives, and sometimes deals death, around the world. If Chinua Achebe’s famously wise words were right, if evil really does thrive best in 'quiet, untidy corners,' then foreign correspondents must persevere there." - Christina Goldbaum, NYT (2018)
Perspectives on Global Stories and Media Literacy:
Global Voices: Global Voices is an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists. Together, they leverage the power of the internet to build understanding across borders.
World Press Freedom Index 2018: The US just dropped from 43rd to 45th in this press freedom ranking in 2018. Read why.
Blue Feed, Red Feed: Facebook’s role in providing Americans with political news has never been stronger—or more controversial. Scholars worry that the social network can create “echo chambers,” where users see posts only from like-minded friends and media sources. To demonstrate how reality may differ for different Facebook users, The Wall Street Journal created two feeds, one “blue” and the other “red.” If a source appears in the red feed, a majority of the articles shared from the source were classified as “very conservatively aligned” in a large 2015 Facebook study. For the blue feed, a majority of each source’s articles aligned “very liberal.”