Sign up to
news feeds:

Select RSS feed catergory:

The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

Русский Русский

Media reports

Back to newsline
30 June 2006

The World Political Forum holds an international seminar

    On June 23-24, 2006, on the Island of San Servolo in Venice, Italy, the World Political Forum held an international seminar with a theme “Media between Citizens and Power.” The Seminar was organized jointly by the World Political Forum and the government of the Province of Venice. It was attended by prominent politicians, experts, heads of national media and international organizations, and public opinion leaders, including the UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, well-known American author Gore Vidal,  Editor-in-Chief of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza Adam Michnik, Director of the International Press Institute Johann P. Fritz, and others.

     Participants in the Seminar discussed the public role of the media and the ways in which they can be used by civil society institutions to protect and develop democracy, with particular attention to the rights of citizens.  Special attention was paid to the emergence of the global information society. In his opening speech at the Seminar, President of the World Political Forum Mikhail Gorbachev said, in particular:  “The role of the media in the modern world is a very wide-ranging and deep subject. We would like to focus just on a few key aspects that are of greatest interest to policy-makers and the civil society, in particular on the relationship between new information technologies and governance processes; between democracy and the information sphere; between the media's owners and financial and political authorities. Of course, talking about power we intend to discuss how the media are affected by various poles of power and factors of influence: political, economic, and technological.

     ... Freedom of speech, and independent media as its tool, is of immense importance today in fighting antidemocratic regimes that still exist and attempts to infringe on civil and political rights and in resisting the temptations of authoritarianism and attempts to restore a political monopoly by bureaucrats on power. This is why the profession of reporters remains dangerous and journalists often turn from observers and witnesses of events into targets of political reprisals and hostages and victims to dictatorships, civil wars and international conflicts. However, it would be an illusion to believe that the mission of the free press as the guardian of democracy becomes less important once antidemocratic regimes are toppled. We have discovered that the market can be hostile to democracy and no less totalitarian than political dictatorships. We have found that not only Agitprop can perform censorship. It appears that to jam the truth you don’t necessarily need the government’s jamming stations (which have lost their efficiency). You can do it by flooding the air with irrelevant information and entertainment programs and with the help of advertising lobotomy, which turns a thinking man into a consuming man.

     And, finally, there is a problem of dependency of the press on private employer. “Fast news, just like fast food, can be cheap and popular; however, their production remains in the hands of monopolies and the public needs a constant control system to make sure that it is not fed genetically modified products. There should be no illusions in this regard: we are talking about politics, not commerce. With the help of overflow of low quality information, as well as using information shortages and bans one can deliberately multiply ignorance, while turning news into goods helps to substitute public debates on vital issues with sales of scoops and promotion of candidates for next elections. So, power – be it political or economic – tries to turn the media into a tool to control the society, to enslave it, in effect...”
Meetings in San Servolo to discuss relationships between the mass media, political structures and the civil society are planned to be held on a regular basis.