Press Freedom in a “Post-Truth” Era | The Alliance Series

March 12, 2019

As part of the Alliance Series at Albertine, Steve Coll, Dean of Journalism at Columbia University and Bruno Patino, Ph.D., Dean of Sciences Po School of Journalism, explored the topic of freedom of the press in a “post-truth” era. Dr. Courtney Radsch moderated the conversation around important questions such as “What is (and isn’t) media?”, “What regulations should be implemented to ensure they play their role dutifully?” and “Can we have quality journalism in a meme-driven social media inflected information environment?”

To these questions and more both Steve Coll and Bruno Patino provided insightful perspectives. On the issue of truth, Steve Coll advocated a form of journalism grounded in scientific methodology by stating that, “I belong to the camp that isn’t persuaded that trust is the right way to measure journalism’s success. Journalism’s purpose in a constitutional democracy is accountability and transparency. It is to hold powerful people accountable, and that function doesn’t always generate trust. It should be reliable. And so it should be driven by evidence. The results of a journalistic investigation should be replicable by others. And so, it should follow a scientific method.”

Bruno Patino concurred: “There is always a strong correlation between trust in institutions and trust in media. We are doing quite poorly in France because trust in institutions is at 35%, trust in media at 39%, and trust in the military is at 65%. We should worry. But when you look at the international index the countries that are doing the best as far as trust is concerned are Singapore and China. And I’m not sure we are willing to follow one of those two models. So we should not really focus on trust but rather, on accountability or legitimacy, I think.”

The full conversation can be viewed on the video below.