First Annual TLN Conference on Freedom of the Media

“It’s our duty as journalists to shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy.”

- Society of Professional Journalists


Monday, September 19

Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2060, U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Registration & Light Breakfast

9:45 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks
Daniel Hamilton, TLN President

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The Phenomenon of Fake News and its Ramifications in the Digital Age

The immediate and international availability of information in the digital age allows those who spread falsehoods and misinformation to have a far-reaching impact. Fabricated stories posing as credible information are unlikely to go away. Even as awareness of fake news and its negative impact rises, the public remains ill-equipped to separate fact from fiction. This panel will examine fake news from an international perspective, particularly how technology in the digital age allows its spread across country lines, and how to best identify and regulate against mis- and dis-information moving forward.

Emily Wilkins, Bloomberg Government
Donald Gilliland, Contributors Editor, The Hill
Doug Saunders, International Affairs Writer, The Globe and Mail – Canada’s National Newspaper, TLN Media Fellow
Suzanne Spaulding, Senior Advisor, Homeland Security, International Security Program, CSIS

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Coffee Break


11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Social Media’s Role in Delivering News

According to Pew Research Center, most Americans are highly concerned about the quality and fairness of news on social media platforms. 82% of US adults say social media companies treat some news organizations differently than others, and 88% say these companies favor news organizations that produce attention-grabbing, sensational articles. At the same time, getting news from social media sites is becoming an increasingly common experience. This panel will cover social media’s role as a platform for time-critical and quickly shareable information, and the impartiality and fairness of news delivered through social media.

Peter Roff, Newsweek Contributing Editor and Columnist, TLN Media Fellow
Berislav Jelinić, Editor-in-Chief, Nacional (Croatia)
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Columnist, The Telegraph, TLN Media Fellow
Daryna Shevchenko, CEO, Kyiv Independent
Carl Szabo, Vice President of Public Affairs, NetChoice

1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Lunch Break


2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The State of the Media in the Middle East and Gulf

Particularly after the Arab Spring, authoritarian elites in the Middle East have realized how media threaten their rule, and as such have repressed and persecuted media in the name of combating misinformation and fake news. Armed conflicts, terrorism charges against journalists and media, and growing online surveillance and censorship threaten the freedom and independence of journalists in the Middle East. The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 demonstrated the risks that journalists take in investigating and reporting on behalf of the public in the region. This panel will shed light on media repression in the Middle East and Gulf and offer ways in which the US and EU might respond.

Amb. John Craig, TLN Senior Fellow
Sean Matthews
, The Middle East Eye
Hollie McKay, Foreign Correspondent / Writer

4:00 p.m.
“Freedom of Expression and Responsible Media: A New Equilibrium in the Making”
Hon. Neemat Frem, Member of Parliament, Lebanon

“Protecting Free Expression and Information: A New European Framework to Combat SLAPPs”
Hon. Diana Riba I Giner
Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

4:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks
Debra Cagan, TLN Distinguished Energy Fellow

Tuesday, September 20

The Fourth Estate Room, National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20045

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Registration & Light Breakfast

9:30 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks
Sasha Toperich, TLN Executive Vice President

Keynote Address
Kara C. McDonald, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
In Memoriam to Journalists Killed
Jen Judson, President, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Rule of Law and the Media: How Best to Protect Journalists
In certain regions, the lack of proper follow-up by law enforcement and the judiciary has become a new normal. For 2018 in Europe, there were 26 alerts where state authorities failed to identify, prosecute or punish those responsible for crimes against journalists, including 17 individual cases involving murder. In addition to a lack of legal enforcement, laws that threaten to criminalize journalism as defamation continues to threaten journalistic integrity. This panel will look at the legal framework which allows would-be assailants to operate with impunity, and how a faulty rule of law can lead to the repression of media.

Shaun Waterman, Cybersecurity Correspondent, Newsweek, TLN Media Fellow
Vanda Felbab-Brown, Director, Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors / Co-Director, Africa Security Initiative,
The Brookings Institution
Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera, Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief
Jessica Jerreat, Press Freedom Editor, Voice of America

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.


11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Illiberal Democracy: Editorial Independence and Europe
Despite media regulations that European Union member states and other European democracies have put in place, governments of certain European countries used repressive laws and organizational capture to influence media in the government’s favor. This panel will explore the challenges journalists and media face in these countries, and what can be done to protect the press in illiberal democracies.

András Simonyi, non-resident Senior Fellow – Atlantic Council
Enric Borràs, Managing Editor, ARA Newspaper, Spain
Željko Ivanović
, CEO and former, Montenegro
Mujo Selimović
, Oslobodjenje Media Group, Bosnia and Herzegovina

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Lunch Break


3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Role of the Media in the Arab Springs: What’s Next?
Though the media played a key role in mobilizing protests during the Arab Spring, they also played a key role in the faltering transition processes that followed as conflicts sprang up in the ensuing power vacuums in parts of the region. Instead of supporting the crafting of new identities and institutions, or holding emergent regimes to account, the media contributed to social polarization, discontent, and the doubling-down of authoritarian forces. Transnational broadcasting, pervasive social media, and division over Islamist movements all contributed to the debilitating role of media in the post-Arab Spring environment.

Kristina Arriaga, Meta Oversight Board, Trustee, TLN Distinguished Fellow
Wael El Shaar, Interview Producer, Al Hurra TV, MBN (Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc.)
Frank Musmar, Researcher, Begin Sadat Research Center for Strategic Studies

4:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks
Joel Starr, TLN Senior Fellow