Cronkite professors travel to Ireland for media credibility conference

(Chloe Brooks/DD)
The Walter Cronkite School’s Dan Gillmor and Leonard Downie, Jr., will be attending a media conference in Ireland called “Can we trust our news?” as a co-convener and panelist, respectively. (Chloe Brooks/DD)

Walter Cronkite School professors Dan Gillmor and Leonard Downie, Jr., will travel to Ireland in September for a conference on media credibility.

The conference, called “Can we trust our news?”, will be held at Dublin City University on Sept. 16. It stems from a partnership between ASU and Dublin City University that has been active since 2006.

Gillmor, the director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, is co-convener of the conference. He said journalists should establish their credibility through “standard ways” such as being thorough, accurate and fair in coverage.

“Journalists like to generally be thought of as unbiased,” Gillmor said. “However, they may come off as biased. This is why journalists should be more transparent about their points of view in their writing.”

With a plethora of media sources in today’s world, people need to decide which organizations to follow. In order to help people determine a journalist’s credibility, Gillmor said he upholds a few personal principles.

“Skepticism and judgment are important (in) looking at media,” Gillmor said. “They are the beginning of being a smart media consumer.”

In addition to carefully analyzing media, Gillmor said he likes to read about topics he doesn’t fully understand in order to learn more about them.

Downie, the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School, will be speaking with a group of panelists at the conference about the reliability of the media and the prospects for its continued survival.

“The media ecosystem is large and constantly changing,” Downie said. “Some of it is partisan and opinionated, and some of it is purposeful lies.”

Downie said the public should look for “verifiers of the news” like trusted media brands. The public will be able to find them by seeing where the largest amount of media comes from.

“Journalists establish their credibility by doing good work,” Downie said. “You need to be accurate and unbiased.”

Although social media plays a key role in sharing news, Downie said people should check how they utilize their accounts on any network.

“Everything you do digitally creates a permanent record,” Downie said. “Be careful of everything you do on social media.”

Kevin Rafter, a political communication and journalism professor at Dublin City University, is the other co-convener of the conference. Rafter spent 15 years working as a political journalist in Dublin before starting to teach in 2008.

“I can see all the issues and challenges arising from the changes in journalism and that, in part, spurred the idea for this conference,” Rafter said in an email.

Rafter, Downie and Gillmor agreed that today’s media put out a lot of information, regardless of whether it’s true or false.

“Some great journalism is being produced today – as good as anything previously – but the gross level has probably never been as high,” Rafter said in an email. “The impact of digital has been transformative. Its fallout is still not clear but I think we’ll have a better journalism when we come through this phase of the industry’s history.”

Dublin City University President Brian MacCraith and ASU President Michael Crow will give opening and closing remarks at the conference. The other speakers include journalists and media professionals from the U.S. and Europe.

“I’m looking forward to a great day and to welcoming a host of speakers from the United Kingdom and the United States,” Rafter said in an email.

Contact the reporter at