Democratic Disorder: Disinformation, the media and crisis in a time of change

Globalised society is battling with multiple crises including a global pandemic, climate change and increasing democratic unrest driven by inequality and rise in populism. Misinformation and disinformation, often spread on social media networks and by top-down influencers, are fuelling the crises, as antivaxxers, climate deniers and populists protest against public health measures, moves to protect the environment, and election results. The news media, too, is facing multiple existential crises: crises of confidence as trust in media drops; crises of legitimacy as they struggle to maintain impartiality in the face of populism; and financial crises as the business model to support news, hammered by a perfect storm of changing consumer behaviour, a digital advertising duopoly by tech titans, and a failure to innovate, threatens their future. These two interlinked crises threaten democracy itself: without independent, trusted media there can be no democracy. Without trusted media, the world faces a dystopian future information it becomes ‘weaponised’ in the fight for supremacy. These issues will be debated by a host of speakers in a two-day international Communication and Media Studies conference (25 and 26 August 2022) taking place at the National University of Ireland Galway, hosted by the Discipline of Journalism and Communication. This special international interdisciplinary conference brings together researchers, practitioners, and scholars from a wide range of disciplines who have a shared interest in the themes and concerns of this research network. As a result, topics are broached from a variety of perspectives, interdisciplinary methods are applauded, and mutual respect and collaboration are encouraged. The conference committee welcomes initial proposals for papers and panels.