Kate Wright headshot next to her book Capturing News, Capturing Democracy

MIC & Media at Risk Book Talk: Kate Wright, University of Edinburgh

April 11, 2024 12:15pm-1:30pm
  • Room 500

Capturing News, Capturing Democracy: Trump and the Voice of America

Lunch will be served at 12pm before the talk.

Capturing News Book Cover

About the Talk

During his time as CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, Michael Pack was found to have abused his power, engaged in gross mismanagement, and misused public funds to investigate his own staff for anti-Trump “bias.” A judge ruled that Pack had violated journalists’ constitutional right to freedom of speech—barring him from interfering in editorial matters. Two hours after President Biden was inaugurated, he insisted that Pack resign with immediate effect.

But Pack is back: he’s one of the key contributors to a Trumpian vision for the US Agency for Global Media, produced by Project 2025. So, what do we know about what Pack and other Trump supporters want, how they operate, and why it matters for journalism and democracy?

Using rare interviews and 12,000 pages of declassified documents, Kate Wright explains what happened to the oldest and largest US-funded international media network, Voice of America (VOA), during Pack’s period in office. This turbulent time spanned June 2020 to January 2021, including the Black Lives Matters protest, the run-up to the last presidential election, and its contested aftermath—including the events of Jan 6, 2021. Wright argues that whistleblowers, journalists and network managers put up a strong fight, but VOA could still be state media in waiting.

Kate Wright headshot

About Kate Wright

Kate Wright is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Edinburgh. Wright has written about state-funded media, foundation-funded media and NGO-supported media. Her most recent work is on public service media, including her new lead-authored book (OUP, in print), which is about the increased politicisation of a US-funded international news network, the Voice of America, during the Trump administration. She has also published extensively on international news about humanitarian issues. Her interest in these issues is informed by her background as an award-winning BBC journalist working on Scottish, UK, and international news flagships.

Wright is committed to working collaboratively with other researchers and external partners to develop innovative approaches to shared challenges. For this reason, she founded and is now the Academic Lead for the 50-strong interdisciplinary research cluster in Media and Communications at the University of Edinburgh. 

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