The President, the Press and the People




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Apr 07, 2021
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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The President, the Press and the People

Join the 2021 American Studies Program, the next in our “What Future for American Democracy?” series President Joe Biden address the crowd and nation during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II. Courtesy of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr)

Democracy is about ideas and narratives. Stories that provide a common set of facts, influence public opinion, and create majoritarian will. The President, the press, and the people are each primary authors of the American story. Whose version of events determines how Americans see themselves and how the world sees America?

Continuing our series on the future of democracy, the Salzburg Global American Studies Program will explore the roles and relationships between the executive branch in the US, the international media, and citizens of global democracy. Given the variety of voices shaping the public’s imagination, how have citizens productively participated in democracy in the past and how do they participate now?


Participants in this year’s program will join in four integrated online activities, each exploring the intersections of the American presidency, press and people through a different lens. These include:

3 x 60-min town hall meetings (Online)

1 x multi-day program (Online)

These activities will build momentum for a major in-person program at Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria, in summer 2022 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of Salzburg Global Seminar, which launched American Studies as an internationally recognized discipline in its own right.


Through these four lenses – history, culture, business and politics – the 2021 program will seek answers to the following questions:

The President

  • Does coverage of the US president differ to other heads of state? 
  • What are the similarities and differences between coverage by the US press and the international media of the actions of the US president and other heads of state?
  • How has the media impacted presidential behavior?
  • How successful has the president been at controlling public opinion?

The Press

  • How has the style and scope of coverage and the development of new media altered the landscape of public discourse?
  • What has the global media landscape taught us about democracy, civic infrastructure, and accountability?
  • Is 24/7h media scrutiny turning “traditional” journalists from real-time historians?
  • Does traditional journalism continue to wield more legitimacy and impact than social media and new forms of reporting?

The People

  • Has public trust in politics eroded across the world or are new forms of democratic participation alive?
  • Who is a spectator and who is an active influencer of modern democracy?
  • How can the US and other nations reverse the decline in public trust in government and the media to re-energize democratic institutions and civic engagement?


The 2021 American Studies Program will bring together 30-50 Fellows from the US and around the world, representing a diverse mix of academic and non-academic fields. They will combine perspectives from arts and culture, social commentary, historical and geographical analysis, and politics, business, and economics. Fellows’ backgrounds may include but are not limited to journalists, diplomats, activists, entrepreneurs and program builders.


The cost for the full package of the 2021 Salzburg Global American Studies Program is $1100 and includes participation in all three 60-min town hall meetings as well as the multi-day program.

To register for this full package, please click here.

At Salzburg Global Seminar, we believe our conversations can be more valuable and our programs more impactful when participation is diverse and inclusive.

To ensure individuals from a wide variety of countries, sectors, and personal and professional experiences can participate in our American Studies Program, Salzburg Global offers a limited number of full scholarships and partial discounts to participants from universities, research institutes, think-tanks and non-governmental organizations; public officials from non-OECD countries; and to other exemplary individuals.

If you would like to apply for a scholarship or discount, please send your CV or brief bio and personal statement to