Maria Ramirez on “How to Fight Polarization, Nationalism & Distrust in Media in Europe & the US”

Maria Ramirez's seminars will be held on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM. 
Sign up for office hours here.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


In the last two years we have seen parallel narratives develop across Europe and the United States with the rise of populism and the erosion of trust in media and other institutions. At the same time, unexpected leaders have gained power or votes by spreading messages against targeted groups and by exploiting identity politics on the left and the right. This seminar series will explore the nuances of these dynamics on both sides of the Atlantic and what policymakers and journalists should do in this context.

Seminar 1 (10/3): How & Why Facts & Media Still Matter | RSVP

To what extent has the media lost the trust of the public? What are the most impactful stories journalists should focus on? We’ll compare the role of the media in Europe to the U.S., looking at the public’s view of the media, emerging news outlets, and changes in traditional institutions. We’ll talk about the impact of ProPublica, particularly their stories about children separated from their parents at the border, and Electionland, their project covering voting rights in the 2018 elections. We'll examine the process of choosing a story and an angle, reporting, fact-checking, engaging readers and measuring the impact with specific examples such as ProPublica reports on migrant children separated from their parents at the border and the social consequences of parking tickets in Chicago. 

Special Guest: Louise Kiernan, editor-in-chief, ProPublica Illinois

Seminar 2 (10/10): Reporting in the Era of Disinformation in the U.S. & Europe | RSVP

How have the events of the last two years changed journalism and its practice? How have events changed polling and political brands? What can we do as journalists and readers to navigate misinformation and disinformation and make sure facts are getting through?

Special Guest: Claire Wardle, executive director, First Draft, and Shorenstein research fellow at Harvard

Seminar 3 (10/17): Russia & the Reach of its Influence in the U.S. & Europe | RSVP

What has been the role of Russian propaganda in European and American politics? We’ll discuss examples from the last two years and concerns for the next wave of elections, including the U.S. midterms and the 2019 European elections. 

Special Guest: Lenka Kabrhelova, Czech Radio based in Prague, former correspondent in Moscow and Washington

Seminar 4 (10/24): Platforms & New Tools: Friends & Foes | RSVP

Is the backlash against platforms like Facebook fair? Can new technological tools still be a force for good in the public sphere? Can they help to sustain a business model for media?We’ll explore media and social media platforms and new tools to reach audiences as a force of polarization, but also as its possible cure. Beyond Facebook, we’ll talk about WhatsApp, chatbots and other more “closed” environments.

Special Guest: Eve Pearlman, founder of Spaceship Media

Seminar 5 (10/31): The Catalonia Case Study | RSVP

Could a new wave of nationalism break certain countries? What happened in Catalonia and how does it reflect the deterioration of the public debate?  We’ll discuss the independence movement and its aftermath as the “Spanish Brexit” and the role of media and institutions in the public debate around separation. 

Special Guests: Eduardo Suárez, Politibot

Seminar 6 (11/7): Reporting For/About Latinos in the U.S. | RSVP

Are Latinos still the forgotten minority? What are the challenges that face the Hispanic outlets such as Univision? We’ll talk about the challenges of covering Hispanic communities and having an impact on the general population. We’ll focus on the clichés around the Hispanic population and its news outlets and the sparse presence in the public debate of the largest minority of the U.S.  

Special Guest (via Skype): Damià Bonmatí, reporter on immigration and border issues for AJ+ 

Seminar 7 (11/14): Lessons From the Midterms & More | RSVP

Did journalists do a good job covering the midterms? What have we learned from covering the Trump Presidency? Are new formats helping journalists convey reality in more effective ways? We’ll look at election results with a particular focus on the media’s performance and lessons learned from the coverage of the first two years of the Trump Presidency. Are there more lessons to be learned? 

Special Guest: Lisa Lerer, national political reporter, editor of the newsletter ‘On Politics with Lisa Lerer,’ New York Times

Seminar 8 (11/19): What Can We Do to Improve the Public Sphere? | RSVP

*Please note, this seminar will take place on Monday, November 19

What are we missing and what are the safe spaces for debate? Ideas from journalists, policymakers, activists and you, students, trying to better public conversation. We’ll cover experiments with new media and technology.