Opinion

The Fight Against Russian Disinformation

By Michael Posner

Michael Posner

We are living in a world where a range of new technologies are both providing unparalleled opportunities to improve our lives, but are at the same time creating new challenges that we are just beginning to appreciate.

In 1822, James Madison wrote that “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both.” Operating in a much simpler world, Madison and the other architects of American democracy did a brilliant job in developing a constitutional model that guarantees a free press and supports accountable government-essential elements to the provision of “popular information.”

Nearly two centuries later, in the age of the Internet, we can instantly gain access to boundless amounts of information. It’s easy to obtain, affordable and widely accessible. And yet on some level, we are struggling, perhaps as never before, to meet Madison’s standard of guaranteeing  “popular information.” At least three factors account for our struggles.

The first is the rapid demise of the newspaper industry. Just this week, the New York Daily News, once the nation’s largest newspaper with more than 2 million subscribers, cut its news staff in half, another casualty of declining newspaper advertising dollars and a rapidly declining base of users willing to put down a dollar to get the news.  Without professional journalists, held to the highest standards and dedicated to ferreting out the truth, our democracy suffers. As citizens, we find that it becomes far more difficult to get reliable information from which to make informed choices.

Read the full Forbes article.

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Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.