Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021
From 11:50am to 1:15pm Eastern Time
Media, Politics and Democracy -- From the US Colonial Days, to the 2020 Elections and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection
When the 13 US Colonies decided they would form a new, united government, they did not want to imitate Britain’s monarchial policy of Prior Restraint. Under that concept, the King alone decides what will be published. It is a form of censorship. To prevent that, the new country gave the citizens protections for free speech, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Bill of Rights and the First Amendment to protect a free press and free speech. But from 1786 on, these two issues challenged politicians and the public. This lecture explores the expanding contemporary context of free speech beyond newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, into the realm of social media, websites and digital platforms. The Courts and Congress have also jumped into the fray, along with politicians, lobbyists, White Supremacists. QAnon supporters, and media purveyors of deliberate misinformation and disinformation. This is not a new problem, but the massive megaphone of blogs, bytes and a lack of verification of some of the data are---and it creates confusion, distortion, mayhem, and, as we saw firsthand on Jan.6, riots, destruction, deaths and injuries. The lecture is to put the concepts of Media, Politics and Democracy into context, and to show them not as contradictory forces, but as dynamic and changing forces.
Kathleen Burns has been an OLLI lecturer and contributor since 2009. Among the topics she presented for courses are: Diplomacy at Risk; South Africa, from Apartheid to Democracy; Using Drones to Cover the News; the Changing Face of the Arctic; and New Mexico---Past, Present and Future. She is a past president of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a mediator in Virginia Courts.
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