Graphic that says 'What is media at risk?". 'What is' is in written in a grey font, 'Media' is written below it starting at the 'h' in all-cops and red, and 'at' is in grey common letters. 'Risk' is in the third line and lines up with 'what' and is in red and a irregular font, and the question mark is grey and slightly behind the 'k' in risk.

Center for Media at Risk Launch Symposium

April 19-21, 2018 6:00pm
  • University of Pennsylvania
Audience Open to the Public, but Registration Required

"What is Media at Risk?"

The event has ended, but is available to watch on YouTube:

Watch MORE

About the Event

"What is Media at Risk?" is a cross-disciplinary conference bringing together media practitioners, media scholars, and media assist organizations to define what "media at risk" means globally in circumstances of political intimidation and what can be done to resist it. Given the proliferating nature of creeping authoritarianism around the world, these efforts will help highlight Penn’s mission to explain more fully what political intimidation in the media — in documentary, journalism, entertainment, and the digital environment — looks like worldwide.


Thursday, April 19


  • Soraya ChemalyCo-Founder & Director, Women's Media Center Project — "Who Defines Risk and Why It Matters"

Friday, April 20

9:15am – 9:45am

9:45am – 10:00am

10:00am – 12:00pm

  • Bethany Wiggin, Founding Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (moderator)
  • Maria Ressa, C.E.O. and Executive Editor, Rappler — "Exponential Lies (and How to Fight Them)"
  • Samuel Sinyangwe, Co-Founder, Mapping Police Violence and Campaign Zero — "The Challenges and Possibilities of Digital Activism"
  • Amy Siskind, President and Co-Founder, The New Agenda — "Writing History in the Age of Social Media"
  • Zeynep Tufekci, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina — "The New Censorship: If Everything is Potentially Fake, What Role for Journalism?"

12:00pm – 1:00pm

1:00pm – 3:00pm

  • Jim English, Professor, University of Pennsylvania (moderator) 
  • Marjorie David, Vice President, Writers Guild of America West — "How Media Consolidation and Net Neutrality Foster Censorship in the Entertainment Industry"
  • Jeffrey Jones, Executive Director, The Peabody Awards — "Who’s Joking? Late Night Comedy’s Cover Up"
  • Maureen Ryan, Chief Television Critic, Variety — "Spin Cycle: The Powerful Forces Brought to Bear on the Entertainment Reporting Process"
  • Nancy Wang Yuen, Associate Professor, Biola University — "The Curious Case of Hollywood and “Freedom of Speech"

3:00pm – 3:15pm

3:15pm – 5:15pm

  • John Jackson, Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania (moderator) 
  • John Caldwell, Professor, University of California Los Angeles — "Documentaries in Risk-Delegation Systems"
  • Sam Gregory, Program Director, WITNESS — "Diversifying ‘Media’ at Risk: Challenges for Eyewitnesses, Media Activists and Human Rights Media Makers"
  • Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director, International Documentary Association — "Dangerous Docs: Filmmakers Under Attack"
  • Bryce Renninger, Managing Editor, Field of Vision "Risk and Short Films in an Attention Economy"

5:15pm – 7:00pm

Saturday, April 21

9:30am – 10:00am

10:00am – 12:00pm

  • Michael X. Delli Carpini (moderator) 
  • Arzu Geybulla, Freelance Writer — "No Longer Just a Risk, But an Everyday Reality: Stories from Azerbaijan"
  • Parker Higgins, Director of Special Projects, Freedom of the Press Foundation — "Protecting Journalists in the Age of Trump"
  • Jay Rosen, Author, PressThink — "The Campaign to Discredit the Press"
  • Silvio Waisbord, Professor, George Washington University — "Who Cares? When Society Fails to Safeguard Journalists at Risk"

12:00pm – 2:00pm


  • Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Documentarian
  • Sarah Banet-Weiser, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California
  • Nick Benequista, Research Manager and Editor, Center for International Media Assistance
  • Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor, New York University
  • Charlie Beckett, Professor, London School of Economics
  • Caty Borum Chattoo, Director, Center for Media and Social Impact
  • Aymar Jean Christian, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University
  • Susan Douglas, Professor, University of Michigan
  • Jonathan Gray, Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Daniel Grinberg, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Lisa Henderson, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Tom Herman, Director, Producer, and Lawyer
  • Judith Matloff, Nonfiction Author
  • John Nerone, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Nelson Ribeiro, Dean, School of Human Sciences, Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Sylvia Ryerson, Radio Producer and Journalist
  • Ivan Sigal, Executive Director, Global Voices
  • Sky Sitney, Co-Creator and Co-Director, Double Exposure
  • Nikki Usher, Associate Professor, George Washington University
  • Todd Wolfson, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
  • ...and more 

Student Committee

  • Megan Genovese
  • Jennifer R. Henrichsen
  • Muira McCammon
  • Hanna E. Morris
  • Aaron Shapiro

Center for Media at Risk

We are in unchartered waters. Political intimidation threatens media practitioners worldwide, and disinformation campaigns destabilize public trust. The Center for Media at Risk offers the chance to strategize in response to threatening political conditions. Knowing how media practitioners in documentary, journalism, entertainment, and the digital environment work under political threat—and how they can resist its impact — helps save the media.

If you would like to be added to the Center for Media at Risk events list serve, please contact Emily Plowman.