DispatchPresident's messageUncategorized

Can Journalism Save Democracy?


Award-winning American journalist and pro-democracy media critic, Margaret Sullivan, will be this year’s keynote speaker for World Press Freedom Canada’s annual awards luncheon on May 2nd at the National Arts Centre.

Sullivan is a renowned columnist for The Guardian’s U.S. edition and the author of Newsroom Confidential and Ghosting the News. She is also the Executive Director for the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at the Columbia Journalism School.

Journalism ethics and security are vital for maintaining credibility, protecting journalists, and ensuring responsible reporting – all of which will be critically important this year as Americans head to the polls in what will be a rematch of 2020.

We, as a committee, believe Ms. Sullivan’s message will resonate ahead of the elections in the U.S., and indeed in Canada and around the world.

Given the backdrop of an American presidential election, Sullivan’s address to the audience will be informative and provocative.

Questions about the presidential candidates’ ages — particularly Joe Biden’s — are dominating early coverage of the general election. Focusing on it as a campaign issue, Sullivan says, is “nothing short of journalistic malpractice.” Turning the mirror on the trade, she refers to it as a “destructive obsession.”

It’s estimated that in 2016, Republican candidate, Donald Trump, earned $1B dollars worth of free airtime through media coverage. This time round he faces 91 criminal charges in multiple states, including one for insurrection, and he uses the media coverage of these cases to fundraise for his campaign. Even that generates headlines – and more coverage about the coverage.

Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of his political career, Trump has demonized the American media.

If he wins the 2024 election, the protection of journalists could become the issue for the industry. He has stated publicly that, “…the ‘lamestream’ media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events,” and he promised retribution.

At Columbia, Sullivan encourages her students to uphold traditional journalistic principles such as accuracy, transparency, and accountability. She wants to create an environment where the next generation of journalists can work fearlessly, uphold journalistic integrity, and serve the public interest.

Responsible reporting contributes to a healthy democracy.

Join us at the press luncheon to hear what Margaret Sullivan has to say. And to celebrate the 2024 World Press Freedom Canada award winners – including an inaugural award for journalism students.