On October 8, 2018, American Space Leipzig welcomed Professor Nicco Mele, former Senior Vice President and Deputy Publisher of the Los Angeles Times and current director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University.

Prof. Mele spoke to an audience of around 30 students and members of the public. After his talk, he was joined on stage by Leipzig University’s Prof. Alexander Godulla (Communication and Media Studies) for a panel discussion and Q&A.

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Prof. Mele argued that in the digital age, the role of traditional media and journalism has been uprooted due to overwhelming use of technology, algorithms of companies such as Google and Facebook specifically. While algorithms allow us to filter and sift through the large amount of news today, they do so while being autonomous, working off personalized data that has been fed to them, effectively creating a kind of personalized newsroom for the recipient. What may be helpful on one hand, can hamper our right to choose the news we want on the other, due to the bias present in the algorithms themselves.

Furthermore, Prof. Mele spoke about the rise of fake news and the need for a robust technological literacy for people so they have the necessary means to analyze news for its truth value, as opposed to its entertainment value.

During the panel discussion, Prof. Godulla added a transatlantic perspective to the event. Prof. Mele and Prof. Godulla agreed that laws and political processes need to find constructive ways to deal with technological progress and that both the US and Europe can learn from each others’ perspective on the role of the state, privacy, and property. When Americans take a photo of a person in public, Prof. Mele explains, the photo belongs to them. In Europe, however, the right to privacy questions the ownership of the photo. These are social and political questions the transatlantic community will need to actively tackle in an increasingly interconnected world.