Responsible journalism in the age of hyper-polarization

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 17:30to19:30
Faculty Club 3450 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E5, CA

For many observers, the American media’s commitment to “balance” contributed to President Trump’s victory by normalizing his views and behaviour and fueling the public’s belief that “both sides are corrupt”. This problem is only amplified when it comes to reporting on far-right nationalist groups, where the mere act of covering them can arguably provide them with undeserved legitimacy.

In response, people like NYU professor Jay Rosen have asserted that this is no time for balanced journalism; instead the media simply need to “declare their biases” as transparently as possible. But what does this mean in practice? For example, how should the media report on Quebec’s far-right group Atalante, whose members recently raided the office of Vice Magazine and threatened a reporter whose coverage they did not like? Or how can the media do its job in an environment where left-leaning social media mobs appoint themselves as overseers of editorial standards and decision-making, and are quick to condemn a publication for giving a voice or platform to figures who they consider beyond the pale of legitimate debate? And what are the implications from all this for public policy?

Join the Max Bell School of Public Policy and Media@McGill in welcoming Phil Gohier, Mark Lloyd, and Jennifer Ditchburn for a conversation moderated by Andrew Potter, which explores the demands and responses of responsible journalism in dealing with these challenges.

Register for the event here

About the speakers

Phil Gohier

Philippe Gohier is the editor in chief of VICE Québec, which has covered the province's political fringes extensively since launching in the fall of 2016. He was previously an editor at L'actualité and Maclean's.

Mark Lloyd

Mark Lloyd is a professor of professional practice in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.  He is also a Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California-Annenberg School of communication, teaching in both the Communication School and the Journalism School and he manages the Consortium on Media Policy Studies (COMPASS) summer fellowship program in Washington, DC.

From 2009-2012 he served as an associate general counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, advising the Commission on how to promote diverse participation in the communications field with a focus on research into critical information needs and broadband adoption by low-income populations.  His other government service includes time on the Clinton Transition Team, and working in the personnel office of the Clinton White House, focusing on the National Council for the Arts and advising the domestic policy office on the relationship between arts and commerce and public diplomacy.

Jennifer Ditchburn

Jennifer Ditchburn is the editor-in-chief of Policy Options, the digital magazine of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). An award-winning journalist, she spent more than two decades covering national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and for CBC Television. Jennifer holds a master of journalism from Carleton University, where she is a fellow with the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management. She is the co-editor with Graham Fox of The Harper Factor: Assessing a Prime Minister’s Policy Legacy (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), and a major contributor to Sharp Wits & Busy Pens: 150 Years of Canada’s Parliamentary Press Gallery (Hill Times Publishing, 2016).

About the Moderator

Andrew Potter

Andrew Potter is a Canadian author and associate professor at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He is the former editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen; best known outside Canada for co-authoring The Rebel Sell, with Joseph Heath, and for his 2010 book, The Authenticity Hoax.


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