Democracy in Crisis series features insights from journalists


While law enforcement agencies and a congressional committee work to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol, subsequent efforts seek to undermine the norms and structures that have given Americans basic confidence in elections and in the peaceful transfer of power.

Meanwhile, from statehouses to the U.S. Supreme Court, bitter debates rage over voting rights, access and security.

The University of Michigan’s Democracy in Crisis series will feature four award-winning journalists sharing their insights into the forces threatening and protecting democratic structures and systems.

It also will explore the current state of journalism and the role of the press in upholding democratic institutions — at a time of demagogic attacks on the media and dramatic shifts in media ownership and independence.

Events include:

  • March 9: Molly Ball of Time magazine, interviewed by veteran political reporter Craig Gilbert.
  • March 23: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Barton Gellman of The Atlantic, moderated by Barbara McQuade, Law School professor from practice.
  • March 31: Sarah Kendzior, author of “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America,”in conversation with Ford School lecturer Jonathan Hanson.
  • April 4: Anne Applebaum will close the series with a keynote at the Michigan League. Author of “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism,” Applebaum was named one of “The Top 50 Thinkers of the COVID-19 Age” by Prospect magazine. Ford School Dean Michael Barr will moderate the session.

“Here in the United States, and in many countries around the globe, democracy is being threatened, and journalists are standing up to raise the alarm. This series will help our community and the broader public understand what’s at stake, and what they can do about it,” Barr said.

“Strong, free and open, ethical journalism is essential to a well-functioning democracy,” LSA Dean Anne Curzan said. The series offers an opportunity to learn about the state of U.S. democracy as well as “the state of political journalism from an insider’s perspective.”

“Diminishing the role and work of journalists is a key tactic in undermining democracies,” she said. “Bringing visibility to the work of journalists is a necessary antidote to those efforts.

“We look forward to giving our community a chance to engage with these experienced reporters in a way that cuts through the noise to prompt thoughtful civic engagement.”

The series is a partnership of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Wallace House and U-M Democracy & Debate 2021-22, and is co-hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.


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