Combatting the Crisis of Distrust in Media

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Aug 08, 2019
by Mirabelle Morah
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Combatting the Crisis of Distrust in Media

More than 70 participants  from around the globe take part in this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change to tackle the cost of disbelief, fracturing societies and the erosion of trust in media Participants and faculty from the 2019 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

More than 70 participants from universities and colleges around the world came together in Salzburg to combat the crisis of disbelief and erosion of trust in media.

Last month, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change brought participants together for its 13th program: The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and the Erosion of Trust.

During the 17-day program, held at Schloss Leopoldskron, the Academy hosted students from Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Participants discussed and debated crucial issues concerning fake news, the lack of trust in media, the cost of disbelief, the need for impartiality, plus other key challenges within the context of media in different countries of the world.

By the end of the Academy, participants had worked on six different projects, which fall under the umbrella name, “[re]BUILD: Interactive learning experiences for media literate societies.

[re]BUILD is a collection of interactive learning experiences and workshops designed to target issues of disbelief that ultimately fracture and divide societies. These projects include:

  1. Filter Bubbles and Fugitive Spaces: Curated by participants to assess individuals’ ability to form and take part in open discourse.
  2. Reclaiming the Fourth Estate: A learning experience that helps students focus first on building a foundation of trust before stimulating empathy.
  3. Generation Impactivist: Fostering trust by exploring shared social vulnerabilities.
  4. Finding Common Ground: Equipping people with skills to engage in more effective intercultural communication and recognize biases.
  5. Navigating News Media in an age of Information Explosion: A step-by-step guide to building a media literacy toolkit.
  6. Mazeum: An interactive learning experience where people go through a metaphorical maze where they will find information about a particular topic that is grappling the world, presented in different mediums and angles.

Before these projects were presented on the final day of the program, participants took part in a range of activities. Expert-led lectures, cultural tours of Salzburg and Gosau, a visit to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, as well podcasting workshops from Public Radio Exchange (PRX) – a leading media company – are some of the highlights that were intended to give the students rich and diversified experiences and lessons around leadership, media, journalism.

At the beginning of the program, Bangladeshi photographer and Salzburg Global Fellow, Shahidul Alam, delivered the Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture. Alam reminded participants that “giving up” was not a “luxury” anyone could afford, especially when fighting for a just and better world.

Throughout the Academy, participants were encouraged to think outside the box and work together while exploring new ideas and solutions to bring humans together and support inclusive and equitable media and civic systems.

Working together on different projects not only built the students’ skillset but also personally impacted them. “The way this Academy has affected my passion for advocacy is [in an] indirect way whereby being here, I've felt more validated, more accepted, and more confident than I've ever felt in my life before,” said Luce Hamdan who’s working towards a master's degree in interdisciplinary gender studies at the Lebanese American University.

Meanwhile, Joy Opiyo, from Daystar University in Kenya said, “When I came here, I really did not know what I was coming to do. I didn’t have very many expectations, except to learn. But the very first day that I got here, the very first speaker [Shahidul Alam] seemed to have come to speak to me. And I felt like his talk was actually good to me as a photographer, and he gave me purpose and vision for what I can do with this skill that God gave me, of photography.”

Isabella Miranda Pasquel Diez, a communications student at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico, said, “Can you imagine a world where there are no borders, where the only trip you need to make to get to know another culture is to walk to the neighbor's door? That's Salzburg Global Seminar.”


The Salzburg Global program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and Erosion of Trust, is part of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.