Agenda 2024

DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK

Disinformation Campaigns, AI and the Role of the Media in the 2024 Super Election Year
Thursday, 12 September 2024, Orangery Palace, Potsdam/Germany
Hashtag: #M100SC
Facebook: @M100Sanssouci Colloquium
Twitter: @M100Colloquium
LinkedIn: m100-sanssouci-colloquium
Instagram: @m100colloquium
09:00 – 20:00

M100 SANSSOUCI COLLOQUIUM and M100 MEDIA AWARD


09:00 – 09:30

CHECK-IN

Conference Chair: Christoph Lanz,Trustee Thomson Foundation, Member of the M100 Advisory Board


09:30 – 09:40

WELCOME

By Organisers


09:40 – 10:00
GETTING STARTED!
Interactive round of introduction

10:00 – 10:30

OPENING SPEECH              
Anna Wieslander

Director for Northern Europe Atlantic Council, Chairman of the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP), secretary general of the Swedish Defence Association (AFF), Sweden

with Q & A

 


10:30 – 11:45

PLENARY ROUNDTABLE I

Inspiration: Claudia Major, Head of Security Policy Research Group at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP, Germany
Inspiration: Stefan Schaible, Senior Partner, Global Managing Partner, Roland Berger, Germany
Moderation: Christoph Lanz, Trustee Thomson Foundation, M100 Advisory Board
At last year’s M100, participants emphasised that liberal democracies must become much more aware of their own responsibility to defend their values. It is not only in Europe that EU-sceptical, right-wing populist and far-right parties are gaining ground and could trigger a political earthquake in the upcoming European elections. In addition, alliances between Russian friendly governments such as Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia within the EU pose a further danger, while autocratic alliances between China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran threaten external security. Only Poland, under its new Prime Minister Donald Tusk, has succeeded in giving a sign of hope for the possibility of reversing this development in times of increasing autocratisation tendencies.
The war in the Middle East is now dividing societies from within as rarely before and is testing the framework of our basic democratic order. This raises the question of what the outcome of the European elections – and a number of other elections this year – means for the future of Europe and the world order as we know it.
Stefan Schaible, Senior Partner and Global Managing Partner at the international management consultancy Roland Berger, emphasises: “A strong, democratic Europe is the basis for peace, freedom and economic growth.”
“Peace is more than the absence of war,” says SWP‘s security expert Dr Claudia Major. “Europe urgently needs to rethink its defence strategy in order to effectively counter current and future threats. I hope for a society that understands the need for defence.”


11:45 – 12:15

LIVE JOURNALISM: DISINFORMATION IN ELECTION CAMPAIGNS

Presentation of the M100 Young European Journalists Workshop


12:15 – 13:15

Lunch


13:15 – 13:30

INSPIRATION: “How to defend Democracy on Social Media?”

Luai Ahmed
Host at „Builders of the Middle East“, Columnist at Bulletin, Sweden

with Q&A

 


13:30 – 14:45

PARALLEL STRATEGIC WORKING GROUPS
I. Europe’s Future: How can Democracy become more assertive?

Inspiration: Nicolas Tenzer, Non-Resident Senior Fellow Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), France
Moderation: Anja Wehler-Schöck, International Editor Der Tagesspiegel, Germany

Europe faces a wide range of internal and external challenges, from rising populism and authoritarianism to geopolitical instability and technological disruption. The need to strengthen Europe’s democratic institutions, values and resilience has never been more urgent.
If Europe, if democracy wants to survive, it must become more resilient and assertive.
Already in 2014, the author Simon Shuster wrote in Time magazine: “A generation of Westerners has grown up in the happy belief that that the Cold War ended long ago and peace is Europe’s fated future. They are slow to rally to the chore of once again containing Russia’s ambitions. So, Putin presses ahead. His increasingly overt goal is to splinter Europe, rip up the NATO umbrella and restore Russian influence around the world.”
Nicolas Tenzer, a French expert on Europe and security, criticises the West for not recognising the extent of Russia’s ‘total war’ against Ukraine: “The concepts of the practitioners and theorists of international relations in the face of the reality of an all-out war that Putin is waging against the democracies are not working. Far beyond the invasion of Ukraine, there is something much more profound going on here.”

 

II. In Propaganda’s Net: How Disinformation Campaigns influence Elections worldwide

Inspiration: Jessikka Aro, Journalist, Expert on Russian Information Warfare, Author, e.g. “Putin’s Trolls. On the Frontlines of Russia’s Information War against the World”, Finland
Moderation: N.N.
Disinformation campaigns have become a pervasive threat to the integrity of elections around the world. In the super-election year of 2024, the impact on democratic elections is a particular focus for politicians, media and the public, as it could decisively change politics and societies for years to come. According to research by the National Endowment for Democracy, Beijing and Moscow have developed massive, outward-facing media capacities that are able to curate content according to the preferences of the political leadership. The stories disseminated by these state-run pseudo-journalistic enterprises are increasingly aligned, taking advantage of opportunities to concentrate messages and narratives in places around the world. The aim is not to “change the behaviour of leading politicians, win the hearts and minds of citizens, or weaken the vitality of democracies and their resistance to dictatorship. Rather, they are trying to undermine the very idea of democracy.”

 

III. How to balance potential Benefits with potential Harms? Journalism and Artificial Intelligence

Inspiration: Amy Mitchell, Executive Director, Center for News, Technology & Innovation. Center For News, Technology & Innovation (CNTI), Washington, USA
Moderation: Prof. Dr Alexandra Borchardt, Senior Journalist, University Teacher, Media Adviser, Germany

AI is revolutionizing not only industry worldwide, but also journalism and the way the public gets informed. As with most new technologies developments in AI carry both positive opportunities and potential harms – including in its role in an informed public. How do journalists take advantage of these opportunities and communicate about them to the public in ways that will be meaningful, build trust and relevance and help them evaluate the content they encounter?

 

IV. The Future of the Media: Journalism between Objectivity and Activism

Inspiration: N.N.
Moderation: N.N.
The war in Ukraine and the murderous attack by Hamas on civilians in Israel are major challenges for journalism. Added to this are the growing, ever faster-spreading propaganda and disinformation campaigns that aim to divide Western society and pose major problems for editorial teams. Can journalism still be objective in these times? Or should it, as a Washington Post op-ed argued in early 2023, abandon objectivity altogether as a standard no longer compatible with the new age, a new generation of journalists? “That truth-seeking news media must move beyond whatever ‘objectivity’ once meant to produce more trustworthy news”?
Especially in the case of Hamas-Israel, one sometimes gets the impression that “objective reporting” is hardly possible anymore and that more and more journalists are mutating into activists (for whichever side). Coupled with this is the question of whether a journalist must also be a patriot or whether facts must always be published, even if they harm one’s own country. There is also the question of what role traditional media will still play in the future, what new forms of journalism will reach users in the future and what this means for the independence, future and credibility of the (traditional) media.


14:45 – 15:15

Coffee Break


15:15 – 16:00

PLENARY ROUNDTABLE II

Presentation of the working groups, summarizing discussion and results


16:00 – 17:30

Break


17:30 – 18:30

SPECIAL TALK

18:30 – 19:00

Break


19:00 – 20:00

M100 MEDIA AWARD             

 


20:00 –  22:00

RECEPTION