Esperanza: A Story of Complicated Hope in Cuba

On December 17, after a half a century of strained relations, the United States and Cuba announced that the two will embark on a careful journey to normalization.

Just two months after this momentous announcement, five students from the Media and Public Diplomacy course of the International Communication Graduate program at St. John’s University and two professors got the rare opportunity to spend a week in La Habana through the People-to-People Educational ambassador program.

How to Remedy the “Infodemic”? On the Notion of Communication Rights

Collaborative essay with Quiana Criales, Hope DeVito, Seraiah Romero, and other participants of the ICM835 – Media Governance course, Spring 2020.


What Are Communication Rights? 

people holding mask over a sculpture
Photo by cottonbro on

The rights-based approach is typically presented in a general sense as a counterforce that protects individuals against illegitimate forms of power, including both state and corporate domination. Many have noted the democratizing power of the digital age. But the increasing amount of challenges – the rampant spread of disinformation and hate speech online, the internet giants and related violations of privacy, persisting digital divides, and inequalities created by algorithms, to name a few  – face us as individuals and members of society.

These challenges have sparked renewed discussion about the idea and ideal of citizens’ communication rights – and these debates have intensified in today’s global health crisis caused by the coronavirus. No wonder the World Health Organization has called the situation “infodemic”.

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Speak Out! Rebuilding Trust in Media and Democracy in the Era of “Fake News”

Democracy is in crisis. The values it embodies – particularly the right to choose leaders in free and fair elections, freedom of the press, and the rule of law – are under assault and in retreat globally – The Freedom House Freedom in the World Report 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 2.37.39 AMThis was the motto of the Conference Speak Out! Rebuilding Trust in Media and Democracy in Kingston, Jamaica on 13 August 2018, organized by the Public Media Alliance. The conference brought together thought leaders from around the world to discuss journalism and policy solutions to current information disorder of fake news, polarization, and distrust.

While many reports from around the world painted a picture of political turmoils and constant challenges to independent journalism, keynote experts presented an array of innovative strategies and tactics for rebuilding trust in media and democracy.

Minna Aslama Horowitz, a Fellow at the Institute and a chair of the conference, recounts some key takeaways:

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Public Service Media and Information Disorder: A Report to the Council of Europe

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 3.46.03 PMThe Institute Fellow Minna Aslama Horowitz, with the assistance of the Master’s students Helene Diyabanza Peterson and Julia Theilen, authored an Expert Report for the Council of Europe on the possibilities for public service media to counter disinformation  and propaganda.

The report was presented to the Council in Paris, France, on 25 May 2018.  Below is the transcript of the presentation.

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Immigration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship: Re-thinking Sovereignty

statue-of-liberty-1210001_1920These realities of human life have always been contested. It is about loyalty/trust and finding an organizing principle to develop a functional socio-economic society. It is about sharing of resources, which are always in short supply; for a variety of reasons there are never enough resources to go around, no matter how rich the society/community is.

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