Journalism under Fire: 2019

Journalism under Fire: 2019

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

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

In answering this, we’ll explore the intersection between social media platforms and fake news; how artificial intelligence (e.g. through deep and shallow fakes) is increasingly influencing the public domain; digital forensics and open source investigations; and how individual technologies — from podcasts to the camera — have changed the media landscape.


Malachy Browne is a Senior Producer at the New York Times who specializes in Visual Investigations, a new form of accountability and explanatory journalism that combines traditional reporting with advanced digital forensics, such as collecting and parsing information from large volumes of videos, photos and audio, analysis of satellite imagery and 3‑D reconstructions of crime scenes. Check out his work in retracing the path of a bullet that killed a Palestinian medic in Gaza.

Dana Priest is returning from last year’s conference. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner from the Washington Post — and by far the speaker Santa Féans most wanted to see again — Ms. Priest is best known for her reporting on the Syrian conflict, and on Russian interference in the most recent elections in the Western World.

Ron Haviv is an Emmy nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe. In the last three decades, Haviv has covered more than twenty-five conflicts and worked in over one hundred countries. He has published three critically acclaimed collections of photography, and his work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Suzanne Kelly is Founder, CEO & Publisher of The Cipher Brief, a digital site providing expert analysis and insights on national and global security issues. Kelly is a former Intelligence Correspondent for CNN, spent nine years working as a news anchor for CNN International based in Atlanta and Berlin, and is the author of Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War (2009).

Rana Ayyub is a prominent Indian investigative journalist and a political writer and an important voice from South Asia. She has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with some of the leading publications in India and internationally. Her pieces appear in the Washington Post, New York Times, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, and others. Recently, she was targeted by a deep fake pornographic video to intimidate and silence her.

Ivan Kolpakov is editor-in-chief of, a Russian media outlet based in Riga, Latvia, and often called the home of Russia’s free press. For many Russian readers, Meduza is the most reliable media outlet available in Russian.

Richard Stengel was Time magazine’s 16th managing editor from 2006 to 2013. He was also chief executive of the National Constitution Center from 2004 to 2006, and served as President Obama’s Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2014 to 2016. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Information Wars.

Hannah Allam is also returning from last year. She is a Washington-based national security correspondent for NPR, focusing on homegrown extremism. Before joining NPR, she was a national correspondent at BuzzFeed News, covering U.S. Muslims and other issues of race, religion and culture. Allam previously reported for McClatchy, spending a decade overseas as bureau chief in Baghdad during the Iraq war and in Cairo during the Arab Spring rebellions.

We’ll announce a second wave of speakers in early August. All speaker bios, including links to the work, can be found here.

Big Questions

  • How might “deep” or “shallow” fakes – where a person’s voice or image is deliberately and often maliciously manipulated – influence an electoral process?
  • How do social media platforms assist the “weaponized narrative” by disseminating nonfactual or hate-driven messages? Particularly in developing countries, how has this misinformation contributed to persecution and even undermined democratic institutions?
  • How can digital forensics or open source investigations use big data – from cell phones and satellites – to uncover the truth?
  • 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?

Journalism under Fire: 2018 in Review

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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