Everette Dennis kicked off this semester’s Distinguished Lecture series by speaking about global media in the digital age on Thursday. Dennis was once the director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State, and he is currently the dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar.
The audience included students, faculty, staff and even April Mason, senior vice president and provost, who has helped continue the tradition of the Distinguished Lecture series.
Dennis opened his speech by asking his listeners a simple question: “What is global media?” Members of the audience offered answers, including that it is electronic transmission, access to info and “anywhere.”
Dennis agreed with the audience and added that global media is also about global reach, global access, interactivity and “enhanced freedom of expression.”
Dennis also noted the potential consequences of global media, including the alienation of friends or even starting a war.
“I’m in a place where a diplomatic blockade is going on now that was related to a hacked website and an unfortunate tweet,” Dennis said.
Dennis went on to describe the way media looked in the past. He told a story about how difficult it was to find crisis media while overseas, noting that there was a coup in Moscow, Russia, while he was there. When he was finally able to get a hold of his family, they had not even heard about it yet.
“There are challenges to freedom of expression worldwide,” Dennis said. “I get a report every morning — there are a couple ones from the International Press Institute — that are just plagued with ‘Somebody’s in jail in Turkey,’ ‘Someone in Bulgaria has had this happen to them,’ ‘Something’s happened in India’ and … of course North Korea is always in horrific situations going on.”
Dennis said global media can shed a light on the problems of the world.
“No matter where you look, there seems to be a pattern of repression of freedom of expression, and that includes a lot of things,” Dennis said.
Dennis described the penalties that occurred in areas without freedom of expression, such as in Qatar. Any comment, negative or positive, about Qatar in social media could make one subject to 15 years in jail, Dennis said.
Dennis later addressed fake news and how it causes society to be even more critical of the media.
“There’s a lot of it out there,” Dennis said. “There will always be hoaxes, but there’s a lot of fake news that is perpetrated by propaganda organizations.”
Emily Kennedy, sophomore in mass communications, said the lecture was an eye-opener.
“Hearing about all the places that he went and the sensitivity and touchiness to freedom of speech in social media … it definitely made me really appreciate having the right to speak my own opinion,” Kennedy said.
Stephen Loader, sophomore in mass communications, shared similar sentiments.
“I am hung up on the fact that … as information is more widespread and communication is more free, it highlights the issues of where there is oppression of freedom of expression,” Loader said.
Piper Brandt, sophomore in mass communications, said she thought it was important for Americans to be informed about the Middle East because “much is going on over there that we as Americans don’t even know about.”