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

- Society of Professional Journalists


With alarming frequency, journalists around the world are jailed, beaten and murdered in their pursuit of the truth. Since 2016, 345 journalists have been killed and 1,250 have been jailed.

Authoritarian strongmen and their political supporters who wish to silence the press accuse journalists of spreading “fake news” while they themselves create malicious social media disinformation campaigns to intentionally undermine the public’s trust in the truth and fact-based journalism.

It is a phenomena not unique to the West. It’s prevalent in countries from Eastern Europe and Russian, to the Middle East and Asia and it’s a dangerous movement that the TLN believes must be addressed in a concerted and compelling way.

That’s why we’re launching the Freedom of Media conference this December 7 on Capitol Hill. We want to give voice to those trying to improve the rule of law and protect journalists, fight fake news, and better understand the role of social media in disseminating the news.  Our expert panelists will also discuss how to ensure reputable and unbiased news is published in countries with illiberal democratic systems.

The world needs an unencumbered, legitimate press to hold the powerful accountable. But with that comes the responsibility to produce fair and accurate journalism.


Tuesday, December 7

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Registration & Light Breakfast

9:00 a.m.
Welcome remarks

9:30 a.m.
Keynote addresses

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 that spread falsehoods and misinformation to have a far-reaching impact. Fabricated stories posing as credible information is 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 it how technology in the digital age allows its spread across country lines, and how to best identify and regulate against misinformation moving forward.

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.

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

2:15 p.m.
Keynote luncheon address


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

Particularly after the Arab Spring, authoritarian elites in the Middle East have realized how media threatens their rule, and as such have repressed and persecuted media in the name of combatting 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.

4:00 p.m.
Keynote address

4:15 p.m.
Closing remarks

7:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m.
Award Ceremony
National Press Club, Washington D.C.

Wednesday, December 8

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Registration & Breakfast

9:00 a.m.

9:30 a.m.
Keynote addresses

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
In Memoriam to Journalists Killed

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.

11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Illiberal Democracy: Editorial Independence and Europe
In the 1980s, the European Union began to observe issues of media concentration and pluralism as potentially affecting freedom of expression and media freedom. In spite of the media regulations that the European Union has put in place, governments of certain EU 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.

1:15 p.m. 3:00 p.m.
Lunch break

2:45 p.m.
Keynote Luncheon Address


3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Role of Media in the Arab Springs: What’s Next?
Though media played a key role in mobilizing protests during the Arab Spring, it 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.

4:30 p.m.
Keynote address

4:45 p.m.
Closing remarks



The Transatlantic Leadership Network is pleased to announce the creation of the TLN Freedom of the Media Awards for distinguished reporting that exposes betrayals of the public trust and demonstrates the importance and impact of journalism that holds powerful people and organizations accountable.

The contest is open to accredited US and international journalists working with or for a reputable news organization in print, television and online news journalism. The awards are announced each December at TLN’s Freedom of Media Conference.

The TLN awards recognize superior enterprise reporting and production and place a premium on stories that impact society in the following categories.

Public Service. The TLN Gold Medal will be awarded to a news organization that brings its resources to bear on uncovering wrongdoing or ignored problems that lead to or result in corrective action .

Investigative Reporting. For a distinguished example of investigative reporting that exposes wrongdoing by government, corporate and public institutions.

Explanatory Reporting. For a distinguished example of creative reporting and writing that explain a complex subject that impacts the public interest.

International Reporting. For a distinguished example of intrepid reporting that illuminates how the decisions and actions of powerful institutions impact or undermine global peace and security.

Defense Reporting. For distinguished and brave public accounting of international conflicts, misuse or corruption of governments in funding military establishments, and lack of transparency in secret operations that violate human rights.

Commentary and Criticism. For a distinguished example of penetrating coverage of cultural and political issues that society grapples with such as racism, religion, sexual abuse and institutions that lose the public trust.


The Freedom of Media Annual Summit is made possible through generous support by individuals, corporations, and charitable organizations. Sponsorship levels come in six levels:

100,000 USD

50,000 USD

25,000 USD

10,000 USD

5,000 USD

1,000 USD

For more information on sponsorship, please contact:
[email protected]

In partnership with: