3 February 2020

Confronting disinformation, disintegration and the erosion of democracy with Eurozine

The links between disinformation and democracy are in no way, shape or form a new phenomenon, as highlighted by the EFC’s Gerry Salole when opening up a recent joint workshop, as he referenced various songs and lyrics by Bob Dylan illustrating this during the 1960’s. But disinformation is in the contemporary world becoming more and more of a problem for democracy and civil society. With this in mind the EFC co-organised a workshop on 28 January with Eurozine to explore the role of cultural journals in confronting disinformation, disintegration and the erosion of democracy in Europe.

The joint workshop held in Philanthropy House, Brussels kicked off with the aforementioned Gerry Salole opening up the discussion by setting the scene and establishing the context both for the topic and the actors present in the room, representing the philanthropic sector, the cultural journal’s and the European institutions. This would be further build upon by a roundtable of introductions from the room later on but was preceded by a Filip Zielinski, Eurozine, introducing both cultural journals and Eurozine to the room.

Filip illustrated not just what a cultural journal is, what their readership looks like,  what they contain and their proliferation across Europe, but also their role and how they fit between the traditional mainstream media, and academic journals in providing quality, well written and informative content in a more easily understandable and digestible manner. Often projects of passion, they cover all topics and are highly useful in forming networks. They are however often small, constrained by language and geography and are in a perpetual state of rise and fall, with many journals opening and closing each year. Nonetheless they play an important role in giving a voice to those who may otherwise be without none, and are often the sole commentators on inequality and threats to democracy.

Filip and Gerry’s offerings opened the way for a myriad of conversations on the overlaps between philanthropy and cultural journals, moderated by Réka Kinga Papp, Eurozine. The open discussions featured questions on cooperation and funding, the importance of level playing fields and re-evaluating power dynamics, quantitative grantmaking and independent media organisations, editorial control, the rise of online media and the cyclical nature of grantmaking. These discussions carried on into the evening, raising many interesting points, highlighting areas of potential cooperation, and projects on the not too distant horizon, along with helping to develop not only a better understanding of one another but also reaffirming the continuing need for increased dialogue between the philanthropic sector and independent media landscape.

These discussions and the meeting in general will feature in an upcoming report by Eurozine.

For further information on the meeting contact Jennifer Fitzsimons.