The Media & Democracy program hosts public events which bring together academics, journalists, and technologists in conversation with each other and with the broader public to enrich shared understanding about the role of media and technology in public life.

The program’s many events have included public conferences, panels, and book talks:


The Conservative Dilemma: Digital Surrogate Organizations and the Future of Liberal Democracy

These two public panels focused on the causes, effects, and mechanisms by which organizations like QAnon, Breitbart, or r/thedonald—framed collectively as “digital surrogate organizations”—may shape party politics in democracies. They were held in conjunction with a closed research workshop also entitled, The Conservative Dilemma.

The event was held in partnership with the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics at the George Washington University.


"A Deepening Crisis: The Role of 'Digital Surrogate Organizations' in Conservative Parties," held May 3, 2021

  • Daniel Ziblatt (keynote)
  • Deen Freelon
  • Camille François 
  • Curd Knüpfer
  • Ulrike Klinger (moderator)

"A Changed Landscape: Conceptual and Institutional Foundations of the Conservative Dilemma," held May 4, 2021

  • Kate Starbird (keynote)
  • Christopher S. Parker
  • Cynthia Miller-Idriss
  • Jacob S. Hacker
  • Rachel Blum

Whither Conservatism? The State of the Right

This panel asked if Trumpism has replaced conservatism as the dominant ideological alternative to liberalism, and what Trump’s legacy will be for both conservative politics and a two-party system that depends on a responsible right-wing. It emerged out of a research workshop on Extreme Right Radicalization Online.

The event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History and featured on C-SPAN.


  • Nicole Hemmer
  • Rick Perlstein
  • Tasha Philpot
  • Jane Coaston (moderator)


Disinformation, Authenticity, and Democratic Participation

This panel asked how the concept of “authenticity” relates to the viral spread of false, misleading, and inaccurate information on topics from Covid-19 to racial justice, and served as the plenary roundtable for a research workshop entitled, Beyond Disinformation: Authenticity and Trust in the Online World.

The event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History.


  • Sarah Banet-Weiser
  • Francesca Tripodi
  • André Brock
  • Heidi Tworek (moderator)

Navigating the Noise: Election Coverage in the Digital Age

This panel interrogated fundamental changes to the news industry that have reshaped where and how citizens get information about candidates for public office, and emerged out of a research workshop on News Coverage of US Elections.

The event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History.


  • Julia Azari
  • Michael Wagner
  • Claire Wardle
  • Johanna Dunaway (moderator)


2020 Vision: The Present and Future of Disinformation in American Politics

The Media & Democracy program hosted a launch event for MediaWell, the SSRC hosted a launch event for MediaWell, the SSRC's disinformation research mapping platform, on Capitol Hill, headlined by a discussion among distinguished researchers and policy experts.


  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) 
  • Karen Kornbluh
  • Brendan Nyhan
  • Amy Mitchell
  • Julia Angwin (moderator)

Digital Democracies

The Media & Democracy program was one of the primary co-sponsors of this conference hosted by the Digital Democracies Institute, which brought together internationally renowned experts in multiple disciplines to disseminate cutting edge research on the topics such as ethics and machine learning, internet platforms and the public sphere, and decolonizing infrastructures. Other event co-sponsors included the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Simon Fraser University School of Communication.


  • Wendy H.K. Chun (chair)
  • Ahmed Al-Rawi
  • Jonathan Albright
  • Lisa Parks
  • Adel Iskandar
  • Fred Turner
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan
  • Sarah Ganter
  • Lisa Nakamura
  • Nick Dyer-Witheford
  • Sun-ha Hong
  • Safiya Umoja Noble
  • Kate Crawford
  • Fred Lesage
  • Laura Kurgan
  • Helen Nissenbaum
  • Karrmen Crey
  • Jodi Byrd
  • Ariella Azoulay

An Objective Media: Fact or Fiction?

This panel challenged the notion that the media has ever been “objective” or democratic, exploring America’s long-standing romanticizing of what the media is and how it functions. The panel served as the plenary roundtable for a research workshop on Media, Technology and Democracy in Historical Context.

The event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History.


  • Karen Hunter
  • Kim Gallon
  • Andie Tucher
  • Kathryn Cramer Brownell (moderator) 

Race, Gender, and Toxicity Online

This panel considered the mechanisms by which digital media, once lauded as “liberation technologies,” have become increasingly efficient tools to harass and silence already marginalized groups. The panel served as the plenary roundtable for a research workshop of the same name.

This event was held in partnership with the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.


  • Zizi Papacharissi
  • Lisa Nakamura
  • Catherine Knight Steele
  • Gina Masullo Chen (moderator)

Race and Gender in American Politics

This panel reflected on the implications of the 2018 US midterm elections, given the successes (and setbacks) of women and people of color as candidates, and the evolving nature of participation and representation in American politics.

This event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History.


  • Christina Greer
  • Tsedale M. Melaku
  • Jamila Michener
  • Alexis Grenell (moderator)


A Modern History of the Disinformation Age: Communication, Technology, and Democracy in Transition

This roundtable interview discussed the apparent effectiveness of disinformation campaigns in the United States. It was held in conjunction with a research workshop on the historical and contemporary factors that have enabled the rise of both domestic and foreign-sourced disinformation.

Discussions from this roundtable and associated workshop would result in an edited volume, The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States.

This event was held in partnership with the George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs.


  • Yochai Benkler
  • Paul Starr
  • Naomi Oreskes
  • Jane Mayer
  • Frank Sesno (moderator)

Elections in the Age of Trump

On the eve of the midterm elections, Clare Malone led a conversation with John Sides, coauthor of Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America, to discuss what implications the events of the 2016 election—from the bruising primaries to the election night that defied the predictions of pundits and pollsters—might have for the 2018 US midterm elections.

This event was held in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History.


  • John Sides
  • Clare Malone

The Consequences of Misinformation

This symposium discussed the history, circulation, and management of mis- and disinformation, informed by social scientific and journalistic perspectives on the most effective means of understanding and countering false information. Panelists spoke to three aspects of contemporary misinformation: the status of facts/persistence of misinformation; the speed, virality, and spread of misinformation; and what we—or anyone—can do to correct or manage the misinformation that already exists.

This event was held in partnership with the Brookings Institution and featured on C-SPAN.


  • E.J. Dionne (co-chair)
  • John Sides (co-chair)
  • John Bullock
  • Matthew Jordan
  • Lori Robertson
  • Mark Stencel
  • Amber Boydstun
  • Pablo Barbera
  • Rob Faris
  • Alexander Coppock
  • Magdalena Wojcieszak
  • Meredith Broussard

Confronting Algorithms of Oppression

Safiya Umoja Noble delivered a public talk on her book, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, with a response from Meredith Broussard, who introduced her book, Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World.

This event was held in partnership with Roosevelt House at Hunter College.


  • Safiya Umoja Noble
  • Meredith Broussard

Social Media and Democracy: Assessing the State of the Field and Identifying Unexplored Questions

This inaugural event of the Media & Democracy program convened researchers to assess the current literature on social media and democracy and set a research agenda for the field moving forward.

Discussions from this semi-public conference were captured in the program’s first report, and would result in the program’s first edited volume, Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field, Prospects for Reform.

This event was held in partnership with Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

  • Nathaniel Persily (co-chair)
  • Diana Mutz (co-chair)
  • Jonathan Albright
  • Nina Jankowicz
  • Linda Kinstler
  • Matthew Baum
  • Jennifer Pan
  • Adam J. Berinsky
  • Susan Benesch
  • Damon Centola
  • David Rand
  • Renée DiResta
  • Annie Franco
  • Jaime Settle
  • Monica Stephens
  • Kelly Garrett
  • Emily Thorson
  • Joshua Tucker
  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Bryan Gervais
  • Shanto Iyengar