Evidence and Democracy in Times of Crisis

Join us for a seminar where we discuss trust and the news media. To what extent can the erosion of trust in the news media undermine trust in democratic institutions? This seminar is organized by Circle U.'s Democracy hub!

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News Media and Trust in Times of Crisis

The news media are historically and normatively presented as the guardians of the functioning of democratic institutions. As a counter-power, a platform for public debate, a mobilizer of the audience and a provider of verified information, their capacity to fulfil these missions is linked to the notions of independence and credibility.

Currently, the concept of trust is highly debated and problematized both within and beyond academic discourses. This debate has been triggered by various challenges such as the fight against disinformation and conspiracy theories, the decline of trust in legacy media, the rise of a “post-truth era”, and the difficulty of reflecting global realities that are both complex and shifting (climate change, health crisis, security threats, migration).

Trust in the news media = trust in democratic institutions?

The mistrust in the ability of the news media to fill their democratic role has rarely been expressed in such a vociferous way. The seminar will focus on the theoretical and practical issues raised by the concept of trust emphasizing the following question in particular:

To what extent can the erosion of trust in the news media undermine trust in democratic institutions?


Olivier Standaert

Olivier Standaert is Assistant Professor at the Louvain School of Communication (UCLouvain) and Circle U. Chair of Democracy. His main research focuses on Journalism studies and comparative studies between journalistic cultures and markets. He was previously the co-director of the Observatoire de Recherche sur les Médias et le journalisme (ORM), the research unit dedicated to media and journalism at the Louvain School of Communication, and is now chairing the Louvain School of Journalism (EjL).

Oline Marie Sæther

Oline Sæther is halfway through her medical studies at The University of Oslo (UiO). She is currently taking a break from her studies to work full time as an elected student representative at the Student Parliament at UiO. She is passionate about strengthening the voice of students in the University democracy and has written several pieces about the topic in a newspaper for HE institutions. Oline was student leader at The Faculty of Medicine at UiO when the pandemic erupted, and functioned as a liaison between the Faculty leadership and the students during the most hectic days of the pandemic.


Moderated by Tobias Bach and Eivind Engebretsen

The seminar is part of a seminar series called Evidence and Democracy in Times of Crises, arranged by Circle U. The topic of the first seminar was "What evidence?" (in the context of crises).

More information about the seminar series on democracy can be found on Circle U's website

Published Nov. 24, 2021 3:53 PM - Last modified Dec. 8, 2021 11:56 AM