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Media and Politics conference offers rare global perspective

Lectures and panels begin Monday, November 14

As reporters worldwide face questions about accuracy, confidentiality, and the media’s role in times of war, journalists and scholars from around the world will gather at Boston University this week to discuss issues of global media coverage and competition.

Media and Politics, a conference organized by the University’s Institute for Human Sciences, begins today, Monday, November 14, and has drawn editors from the Financial Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, as well as from other domestic and international publications and institutions.

“The role of the media in politics became very visible again in relation to the Iraq war,” says Irena Grudzinska Gross, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of modern foreign languages and the director of the institute. “We have a very close relationship with some of the journalists who reported on Eastern Europe in times of change. We wanted to bring back these journalists and see how they think the media is playing a similar role today.”

College of Communication Dean John Schulz introduces the opening session, Freedom Movements and the Press, which features Adam Michnik of the Gazeta Wyborcza as the keynote speaker, at 4 p.m. at 808 Commonwealth Ave. The lecture and discussion will be followed by the exhibition Poland on the Front Page: 1979–1989, which explores American and Polish press coverage of Poland during a time of political and social upheaval.

The next session, Transatlantic Media Wars, is on Tuesday, November 15, beginning at 1 p.m. at the School of Management. Michael Naumann, publisher of the German publication Die Zeit, will be the keynote speaker, and panelists include editors and reporters from Le Monde and the New Yorker. The final session, The Changing Shape of Today’s Media, is at 4 p.m.; Orville Schell, the dean of the journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley, will give the keynote address. The discussion includes participants from Foreign Affairs and the Weekly Standard. A reception follows the last session.

The IHS, founded in 2001, seeks to explore the changing relationship between the United States and Europe. The conference offers a unique perspective on this relationship, Gross says, because the participants include both former dissidents from Eastern Europe and the American journalists who once wrote about them.

“This will be very topical, very apropos,” she says. “It’s like a reunion, in a certain way.”