Thomas Allen Harris pressents in Media Impact Forum: Beyond Science and the Environment: Trustworthy Media for a Healthy Democracy

October 27, 2021

Beyond Science and the Environment: Trustworthy Media for a Healthy Democracy

Throughout our Media Impact Forum, we focused on the importance of supporting media and communications efforts that provide access to information that will help people make good decisions concerning science, health and the environment.

For our final program, we explored the critical role that trustworthy news and information can play in support of a healthy democracy. In the past year, we have learned how fragile is public trust in the information sources that deliver basic information for good public health and sound environmental policies. We may be weary and worn from battling the yearlong pandemic, but there’s another sickness that’s been spreading across America for at least the last four years: Authoritarianism.

The deadly Capitol attack was not just the result of a violent mob. On Jan. 6, we survived a malicious attempt to undermine American democracy. Because of the last four years of disinformation and lies, millions of Americans truly believe the presidential election was stolen. We’ve come to the unfortunate and stark realization that democracy can die in darkness.

But media can light the way, and philanthropy can play a significant role in the health of our democracy by supporting the flow of evidence-based media and communications. In a healthy democracy, citizens and government are making well-informed decisions about the most critical social issues of our time—many of them relating to science, health and the environment—based on factual information. If the yearlong pandemic has showed us anything, it’s that we cannot make progress on society’s biggest problems without agreeing on a shared set of facts. It follows, then, that we won’t be able to expect informed dialogue and progress on climate change or any other critical social issue.

In this high-level discussion, our expert speakers demonstrated why it’s important for philanthropy to engage deeply in support of the media ecosystem through journalism, documentaries, public media and more. There is no stronger case for increasing critical support for media and journalism than this unprecedented attempt to undermine our democratic processes.

Thanks for joining this enlightening conversation where we explored democracy and media that highlights the importance of telling stories that celebrate America’s unique blend of culture from around the world.

External link: