International Press Conference, 2018

LETTER FROM DIRECTOR

 

Dear Delegates,

In February 2018, seventeen children from Parkland, Florida, were killed in one of the worst school shootings to date. After this, many things happened very quickly. The perpetrator was caught; the event sparked national outrage and anguish; gun laws became the subject of countrywide discussion; and then the students of America stepped up. Through social media and television news, they made speeches, gave information, and took action. Thirteen to twenty year olds nationwide connected with each other, spread the word, and began to plan what would be known as the March for Our Lives in cities all across the country. Most importantly, they used the press – to send their message, inspire their fellow students, appeal to voters, and raise awareness. The Marches took place in March with unprecedented turnouts.

That is the power of the media. It shapes the world as we know it – in fact, without it, we would not know the world. It enabled teenagers to plan an event that aimed to not only inform, but protest against injustice, inefficiency, and violence. It enabled them to call out those who had failed them and appeal to others to do the same. It enabled them to have a voice.

My name is Simran Shankardass and I am excited to say that I will be serving as Director for the International Press Conference, 2018. Though often overlooked before, the media’s role in global politics and democracy should not be ignored, and I look forward to exploring it with all of you in August.

A little bit about myself: I am a twelfth grader making my way through the IB program with a little help from Fall Out Boy, Hamilton, and popular culture. Model UN Press intrigues me because of the way in which it combines writing and global policy. I like to have conversations on anything from gender equality to Jean-Michel Basquiat, so don’t be afraid to strike one up if you see me!

Formerly known as the Press Corps, the International Press Conference, 2018, brings together writing and debate. For the last two years, CMUN Press has followed this style of committee – this year, we have formalized it. While it still involves writing, the IPC will follow the structure and procedure of a Specialized Agency, making use of debate and crisis to enable delegates to simulate the thought and action of real journalists. Delegates will not only write articles on other topics at the conference, but also deal with media-related issues in their own committee, ranging from whistleblowing to fake news to censorship. While committee will be fast-paced and challenging, with constant crises to keep delegates on their toes, we are looking for sustainable, thoughtful solutions to the problems faced by the press – solutions that are needed today and that delegates can feel proud of achieving.

Reporting is the intersection between global politics and policy and the general public. It is for this reason that I think it is important for young people to understand its implications and processes, and hopefully have fun while doing it. I encourage you to apply to the IPC and let this fun begin. Are you up for the challenge?

I cannot wait to see what new ideas are brought to the conference this year, and I cannot wait to meet you all. If you can’t either, and have any questions about the conference, don’t hesitate to email me at any time at press.cmun2018@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Simran Shankardass,
Director,
International Press Conference, 2018.

TOPIC AREA SUMMARY

 

The media has often been called the fourth pillar of democracy. Its job goes beyond broadcasting information – it analyses news, discusses and debates issues, offers differing points of view, and presents the general public with the harshest, most controversial realities of different situations. It also bridges the gap between government and governed, keeping the public informed about the actions of their representatives, and is therefore a powerful institution that provides checks and balances to the system.

However, like most other democratic institutions, the media faces its own unique problems. The censorship of fact and opinion and the control of free speech and expression prevent the press from functioning correctly in countries all over the world. Commercialism – the focus on ratings and revenue rather than real news – leads to sensationalism, inaccuracy, and the understatement of news alike. More often than not, there is no obvious answer when weighing public versus private interest. The new wave of citizen journalism stirs speculation and fake news in with real reporting, making news not only unreliable but confusing. Even without these issues, the encroachment of the traditional news space by social media and the Internet is fast causing the path of traditional media to veer towards extinction. In addition to these issues, journalists face imprisonment, hostage situations, and national backlash for their actions. The journalistic code of ethics is, more than ever, widely confused.

At CMUN 2018, press delegates will engage in debate surrounding these topics, keeping in mind the role of journalism in the world today, the conflicting voices of the media, and the impact of sensationalism, censorship, and fake news on the public. Delegates will have to face these issues throughout committee and work through them, applying their debate in committee to their articles outside it as well.