IPPC conference 2023: building trust in an age of disinformation

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Event details

Thursday 23 - Friday 24 March 2023


The International Public and Political Communication (IPPC) conference, organised by the School of Journalism, Media and Communicationat the University of Sheffield, takes place between Thursday 23 and Friday 24 March 2023. The theme of this year’s conference is building trust in an age of disinformation.

Trust is central to democratic politics. It is the foundation on which all the institutions of civil society rest and the “glue” that binds individuals, organisations, and collective identities together. In recent years, however, a series of global shocks and crises have created new challenges for building and maintaining trust in democratic societies. The rise of “fake news”, the Covid-19 pandemic (and subsequent infodemic), and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent energy crisis, alongside recent attempts to challenge democratic elections in the United States and Brazil are said to be eroding citizens’ trust in democratic institutions. Analysts in the United Kingdom, for example, warn of a “downward spiral of trust”, whereby a combination of cynicism, social polarisation and disengagement from democratic processes is fundamentally damaging society. These trends are mirrored around the world, with studies continually revealing declining levels of trust and political participation in countries such as Australia, Canada, Norway, India and Japan. Studies into news consumption, moreover, reveals how trust in journalism has fallen to an all-time low, with fewer than four in ten people around the world saying that they trust mainstream news media. Indeed, these findings are even worse for social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter, leading to a more pervasive deterioration in public communication.    

The Department of Journalism Studies’ annual conference brings together the most influential voices within the field of public and political communication in order to question the state of trust today. Beginning with a special keynote address by world-renowned journalist, activist and political commentator Paul Mason, the conference includes a series of special guest lectures, workshops and screenings linked around the central theme. We will discuss topics such as the crisis of trust in public communication, the rise of “troll factories”, counter-terrorism campaigning, and the corrosive effects of disinformation on society. Students will also take part in workshops on crisis communication, media literacy, and direct-action campaign tactics. The conference ends with a special screening of Andrei Loshak’s award-winning new documentary Broken Ties (2022), which chronicles the impact of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda tactics on families divided by the war in Ukraine.  

As a key event in the IPPC teaching calendar, the conference is principally organised for those studying on this degree. However, students from across the University are welcome to attend select talks. 

IPPC Conference 2023: building trust in an age of disinformation

About the guest speakers​Schedule of talks and activities

Please contact Dr Jared Ahmad (j.ahmad@sheffield.ac.uk) for more information.

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