Universiteit Leiden

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Debating Media Accountability

Monday 23 September 2019 - Tuesday 24 September 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

The media have always played an important role in politics, mainly as an external observer of the political process. Today, however, they have gradually acquired the role of an agent, capable of creating political reality. Especially in democracies, journalists and newspaper editors have the power to make and unmake individuals, public officials, and institutions. They even have the power to override government decisions as when, e.g., they leak classified information. By framing political issues, the media have the power to influence the electorate and to set the political agenda. When misused, this power may lead to manipulation, distortion, and misinformation. The power of the media in democratic politics thus forces us to rethink their traditional privileges and responsibilities. While it is clear that the media must be subjected to some accountability mechanisms, the freedom of the press is usually championed against media regulation.

Social scientists and legal scholars have extensively engaged in empirical studies of media power and accountability mechanisms. To date, the contributions of moral and political philosophers have been quite limited. But clearly, issues such as the nature, importance, and value of a free press, and the legitimacy of the state’s interference with the activities of individuals and groups sit at the very heart of many philosophical debates.

This workshop brings together philosophers to participate in a discussion forum on the role of the media in democratic politics, with a special emphasis on what it means and takes to make the media accountable for their power.


23 September

15:00 - 16:00

Rowan Cruft
(University of Stirling)

Media Responsibility and the Fundamental Value of Communication

16:15 - 17:15

Liza Herzog
(Technical University Munich)

The Ethics of Journalistic Framing
17:30 - 18:30 Jeffrey Howard
(University College London)
Countering Fake News


24 September

09:30 - 10:30 Judith Lichtenberg
(Georgetown University)
Lies, Bullshit, False Beliefs, Skepticism: Some Epistemic Fallout of Our Political Times.
10:45 - 11:45

Emanuela Ceva
(University of Geneva) &
Dorota Mokrosinska
(Leiden University)

Failing Institutions, Whistleblowing, and the Role of the Media

12:00 - 13:00 Paul Wragg
(University of Leeds)
Meaningful Press Regulation: A Principled Framework


Workshop attendance is free but limited to registered participants.
For registrations and information, contact Dorota Mokrosinska (d.m.mokrosinska[@]phil.leidenuniv.nl).

Please register by 1 September 2019.

The workshop is supported by grants from the UK Society for Applied Philosophy, Van Haersolte Foundation, Leiden University Fund, and the Institute of Philosophy, Leiden University.

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