Media and Democracy in the Spotlight

 March 6, 2024

2024 is crucial for democracy around the world. Almost half the world’s population will vote in elections taking place in more than 50 countries!

At Sanford, I am surrounded by students, faculty and staff who are working to protect media and democracy every day – key pillars of our society. Sanford has built programs and projects to support voter education, civil discourse, and training for political office and policy impact. Our faculty and programs are creating fact-checking and misinformation tools. Through our centers and programs including Polis, the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, and the Hart Leadership Program, we are safeguarding the journalistic and democratic values vital for our future.

In February, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa inspired our students in her Rubenstein Distinguished Lecture. Her brilliant talk brought together the intersection of media, democracy and technology. “We build communities of action,” she said in her talk, “because the point of journalism is not to convince you to vote for one or the other, but to pull us together, to have the really difficult conversations that democracy needs, which requires not just speaking, but listening. That’s what I’ve always looked to America for.”

Yes, democracy is a fight on a daily basis and not just on Election Day. We need everyone now to learn about voting, to learn about the election process where they live, and to stay involved after the election.

This week, I joined a group of faculty colleagues to talk about the primary election with journalists from around the world. As faculty member Deondra Rose said in the briefing, “it’s about moving past the horse race … and emphasizing the importance of participating in democracy. Self-governance means very little if people don’t participate.”

Our founder more than 50 years ago, Terry Sanford, emphasized: “I’ve said to students, if you get into politics, you ought to get in with the frame of mind that winning is not everything. And if standing for something defeats you, so be it. Stand for something.”

This is the time to stand up again – to uphold media and democracy.


Judith Kelley
Dean and ITT/Terry Sanford Professor of Public Policy and Political Science