GMF digital session: Elections and the media | DW Global Media Forum | DW | 16.10.2020

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GMF digital session: Elections and the media

Join the GMF 2020 on October 26 for a virtual session discussing elections and the role of the media at the ballot box. The session starts at 14:30 (UTC+1).

Free elections are considered to be the cornerstones of democracy, with the media often described as the fourth estate to keep those who are in power in check. But the relationship between the media and democracy begins at the ballot box. 

Reporting on political campaigns and their eventual outcomes is a central task in any newsroom — but with digital technology changing the nature of election campaigns around the world, how are journalists keeping up with these changes?

What role does the media exactly play in elections in this day and age? How independently do media organizations get to interact with politics – and with politicians? What do journalists contribute to support democracy and encourage free elections? And why do more and more people believe that the media have their own agenda set when reporting about elections? 

Ballot box in France

Electronic voting machines have changed the way elections are conducted - but do they affect how journalists report?

Audience appear to question the independence of the media especially during election campaigns. But at the same time, quality media outlets have experienced a considerable boost in confidence, reception and sales during the COVID-19 pandemic — but will this newfound trust have any lasting influence on voters? We will take the victories of autocrats and populist leaders in recent years as an impetus to reflect on these questions and identify the future role of journalism in elections.

Our panelists:

Anne Applebaum

Pulitzer Prize winning historian, journalist and commentator on geo-politics, Anne Applebaum examines the challenges and opportunities of global political and economic change through the lenses of world history and the contemporary political landscape. Informed by her expertise in Europe and her years of international reporting, Applebaum shares perspectives on, and the far-reaching implications of, today’s volatile world events. 

Ellen Ehni

Ellen Ehni is editor-in-chief of WDR Television. Between 2004 and September 2018, she worked as editor, presenter and foreign correspondent for a number of WDR programs and led the program group “Business and Law.” Previously, she was an editor and reporter with the news and current affairs programs Tagesschau and Tagesthemen for NDR. She has a degree in law from Humboldt University in Berlin.

Isabela Oliveira Kalil

Isabela Oliveira Kalil is a professor at the São Paulo School of Sociology and Politics Foundation, where she coordinates the Center for Urban and Audiovisual Ethnography. Her research focuses on political manifestations in the public space, gender and conservatism. She has also worked as a visiting researcher at Columbia University in the United States. She is a researcher at the Sexuality Policy Watch forum, where she is part of the international research panel on gender and politics in Latin America.

Our host:

Sarah Kelly

Sarah Kelly is an award-winning journalist who began her career at Bloomberg Television after graduating from Columbia University. She joined DW in 2010 and became a lead anchor on DW News. She has taken part in major international summits, moderating high-level panels at the G20, the World Economic Forum and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP). She is a German Chancellor Fellow and an Atlantik-Brücke Young Leader.

Please join us on October 26 from 14:30 (UTC+1) on and here on