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After Buffalo, Media and Tech Can’t Look Away Any Longer

This tragedy should be a catalyst to a fundamental reckoning.
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Swirling throughout this terrifying situation are so many issues that touch on the work we do every day to build a more just and equitable media system that acts as a bulwark against fascism here and abroad:

  • The global “infodemic” of disinformation and the role social-media platforms play in amplifying it. Free Press has long pressured platform companies like Facebook and Google to protect their users against the spread of lies, propaganda and bigotry.  
     
  • The dangerous embrace of authoritarianism by far-right politicians and propagandists with huge megaphones like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. From its inception, Free Press has challenged the political power of massive conglomerates like News Corp/Fox Television, calling for diverse and inclusive ownership of the media because who has the power to tell stories matters. 
     
  • The censorship and criminalization of journalists in Russia, crackdowns on peaceful protest and attempts to prevent independent journalists from reporting on the conflict. For nearly two decades, Free Press has worked to defend the right to protest and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs.
     
  • U.S. media’s failure — at an incredibly important moment when people need in-depth reporting and historical and global context — to question warmongering voices or reject racist tropes in coverage of the conflict.
     
  • The importance of the free and open internet for dissenting voices, citizen-driven tracking of the movement of oligarchs, and the sharing of information outside of official channels. Free Press fights for internet users’ rights to access affordable networks and connect and communicate with others without corporate or government interference. 

We’re not writing today to offer easy answers — because there aren’t any. But we want to share what we’re thinking about at this moment and make the connections to the work happening here that can feel so distant from the urgency of what’s unfolding in Ukraine. In fact, they aren’t so distant because we know how fragile democracy is — and have seen how close our own democracy has come to the brink.

At this critical juncture, there’s never been a greater need for media systems that support robust coverage of important global and local issues, question official and corporate narratives, stop the spread of disinformation, and defend democracy.

A different media — a different future — is possible. But only if we learn from moments like this one, hold powerful companies and government leaders accountable, and recognize how instrumental the media systems we build are to shaping our collective future.

We’re committed at Free Press to the work of connecting and communicating across borders, transforming the media, and building a true multiracial democracy.

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