Danger to Journalistic Integrity

The Long-stalled Nomination of Michael Pack to Lead the US Agency for Global Media

20 July 2020

Information sovereignty is a relevant concept in the context of American public diplomacy and US media presence in the world.

Information sovereignty as a topic is gaining momentum across the globe. In its wider understanding, it endorses the local news communities across the countries, but also the integrity of journalism or information integrity.

Visegrad Insight organised a breakfast discussion on rising dangers to journalistic integrity in American public diplomacy. This event took place on 7 July 2020.

Introductory remarks at the meeting:

  • Thomas O. Melia, Washington Director at PEN America; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy & Human Rights (2010-2015); Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia in the US Agency for International Development (USAID) until January 2017.

First respondent to the discussion:

  • Susan Corke, Senior Fellow with The German Marshall Fund of the United States and Director of the bipartisan Transatlantic Democracy Working Group.

The long-stalled nomination of Michael Pack to lead the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and other international public broadcasting outlets, was resolved in early June when President Trump pressured Senate Republicans to confirm him, even while he was under investigation for tax fraud.

Now in office, Mr Pack, a longtime ally of Steve Bannon, has already ousted key leaders at all the media operations. PEN America noted the danger to journalistic integrity and public diplomacy that Mr Pack’s arrival in office represents.

“There is a real prospect that Pack would turn these important broadcasting outlets into propaganda tools for the president’s personal narratives about U.S. and world affairs,” said Thomas O. Melia, PEN America’s Washington director.

At the meeting, Tom Melia highlighted that the notion of information sovereignty is relevant for this discussion, reframing it as information integrity or the integrity of journalism.

Both him and Susan Corke saw the nomination of Mr Pack as a move which can further undermine the US reputation in the world and can turn the US media presence in the world as a tool for promoting partisan agenda.



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