Journalism under Fire

In December 2018, the Santa Fe Council on International Relations (CIR) staged its inaugural Journalism under Fire conference. Due to its great success, CIR will now offer the conference for a second year.

The 2019 Journalism under Fire conference will take place over 14-15 November, with the first day at La Fonda on the Plaza and the second at the prestigious and beautiful New Mexico State Capitol. This time we’ll ask, “How does technology shape the truth?”

In answering this, we’ll dive into complex topics such as the intersection between social media platforms and fake news; the role of artificial intelligence in informing content creation and content consumption; digital forensics and open source investigations; and how individual technologies — from podcasts to the camera — are increasingly changing the media landscape.

  • What are the consequences of Big Data and artificial intelligence for journalists and the media – and by extension for democratic institutions? How might “deep fakes,” for instance, influence an electoral process?
  • How do social media platforms assist the “weaponized narrative” by disseminating nonfactual or hate-driven messages? Particularly in the Global South, how has this misinformation contributed to persecution? In countries where social media platforms are the de facto internet portals, what are the consequences for democratic institutions or governance more broadly?
  • What is – and should be – the role of social media platforms in regulating free speech? Can we use technology to better differentiate truth from falsehood?
  • How has social media aided and abetted the persecution of journalists? And in what ways does technology offer new tools to journalists under fire?
  • How have social media giants contributed to the decline of local journalism?
  • How has podcasting — and the mobile phone — changed the face of the news landscape?

The initial line-up of speakers will be announced by end June, 2019. We’re thrilled to welcome back Dana Priest (Washington Post), Hannah Allam (NPR News), and Janet Steele (George Washington University).

At the 2018 Journalism under Fire event, we created The Santa Fe Statement on Journalism under Fire, a record of the event’s themes and recommended actions. Alongisde these are the opening Remarks from the Mayor of Santa Fe, Alan Webber. The City of Santa Fe was an invaluable partner throughout.

Over 4-7 December 2018, Journalism under Fire explored the essential connections between journalism and democracy through 79 speakers, 51 visiting international journalists (48 through the US Department of State and 3 from Arizona State University), political cartoon and border photograph exhibits, the New Mexico Peace Choira Student Newsroom, and a virtual reality simulation. With the incomparable Santa Fe as backdrop, 2018’s Journalism Under Fire created unique learning and networking opportunities among extraordinary journalists, thought leaders, students, and the engaged public.

Sandy, CIR's ED, addressing the Opening Night crowd, with the NM Peace Choir just behind.
Jason Rezaian speaking during the Opening Night panel, with Jenni Monet, Hannah Allam, and Courtney Radsch
The Mayor of Santa Fe, Alan Webber, leads a moment of silence for slain and persecuted journalists.
The Opening Night reception
The New Mexico Peace Choir
Olga Yurkova of
The virtual reality simulation, Blindfold, where you become an interrogated journalist in Iran's most notorious prison.
Arbana Xharra, from Kosovo, and Sandy during the Security, Persecution, and Exile panel.
CIR High School Fellow Neha Sadasivan.
International journalists from West Africa on Misinformation in the Media.
International journalists from Europe on Misinformation in the Media.
Dana Priest and Valerie Plame in conversation - The Media and the Intelligence Community
Balint Szalai, Olga Yukova, and David Bodney on the Global Fake News Epidemic
Nikahang Kowsar - exiled Iranian political cartoonist.
KAL (the Economist), Ann Telnaes (WaPo), and Nik Kowsar - on Political Cartoons as the Litmus of a Free Press.

Journalism under Fire 2018: By the Numbers

Ticket Sales

Total Ticket Sales (all ticket types, including Opening Night): 1,194

Number of Three-Day Tickets Sold: 244

Number of Single-Day Tickets Sold: 262

Number of Opening Night Tickets Sold: 688


Opening Night – December 4: 585

Day 1 – December 5: 368

Day 2 – December 6: 310

Day 3 – December 7: 316

Total Student, NM Journalist, Teacher Attendance: 168

Print Media Coverage

JUF earned significant coverage in the print media:

  • December 1st in the Santa Fe New Mexican [interview re upcoming conference]. “Journalists under Fire set to speak in Santa Fe.” Steve Terrell.
  • December 3rd in the Santa Fe New Mexican [editorial]. “Taking journalists out of the line of fire.” Editorial board.
  • December 5th in the Santa Fe New Mexican [article on conference’s first day; published in print on December 6th]. “At Santa Fe conference, journalists describe working while under threat.” Steve Terrell.
  • December 6th in The Washington Post [both online and in print version]. “Journalism under fire: Here, there and everywhere.” Jason Rezaian
  • December 10th in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Reprint of Rezaian’s article [print only].
  • December 12th in the Gallup Independent. “Despite threats, insults, news people still have a job to do.” Sherry Robinson
  • December 22nd. Full page of photographs from VIP Reception on December 5th. Santa Fe New Mexican.


All photos are in our Facebook account:

We also livestreamed many of the speakers; these are also available on Facebook.


Total Number of Plenary Session Speakers: 51

Total Number of Parallel Session Speakers: 38

Total Number of Speakers: 79

Social Media

  • Total CIR staff Twitter posts during conference: 88
  • Total retweets: 138
  • Total “Loves”: 281
  • Total Twitter posts from non-CIR staff with #JUF2018: 117
  • Total retweets: 337
  • Total “Loves”: 1386
  • Total Facebook Live recordings: 13
  • Total Views: 1173
  • Total CIR staff Facebook posts during conference: 10
  • Total Likes: 124
  • Total Reached: 2544

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