On (and Off) the Media: How the Press Can Save or Sink Democracy

On (and Off) the Media: How the Press Can Save or Sink Democracy

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Saturday, Aug. 20 3:15 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Saturday, Aug. 20 4:15 PM (Eastern)

Room: 315/316

The media has an essential role to play in preserving–or destroying–democracy. This panel will discuss the press’s successes and failures in this area, explain the dangerously direct path of misinformation from the fringes of the internet to mainstream news outlets, and what progressives can do to both hold the media accountable for their failures and support factual, pro-democracy reporting that actually reaches voters.



Melissa Ryan

Melissa Ryan

Melissa Ryan has spent more than a decade working at the intersection of politics, media, culture, and technology. Today, she uses her expertise to help people, policymakers and institutions combat online extremism and toxicity.

Melissa became fascinated with extremism and disinformation during the 2016 U.S. elections, as she watched once-fringe extremist networks rise to prominence as they were amplified by mainstream candidates and media. She was among the first progressives to chronicle the rise of the alt-right online when she launched Ctrl Alt-Right Delete shortly after the election, which has since grown to more than 15,000 weekly readers.

Ryan’s expertise is sought out by journalists, politicians, leaders and everyday Americans who want to better understand how current events are shaped by social media and how political campaigns use digital strategy to engage voters.

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Brennan Suen


Brennan Suen is a senior strategist at Media Matters, where he has worked since July 2015. Brennan focuses on external affairs related to online disinformation and platform accountability, and he was formerly the LGBTQ program director. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.