The end of April 2019, a group of journalists from Tajikistan were in Kanas City to learn about countering disinformation and approaches in building trust between the media, government, and citizens. In addition to meeting with organizations in Topeka and sitting down with community radio station, KKFI, the they took part in a panel discussion with Adrienne Haynes, SEED Law lawyer and founder of the Multicultural Business Coalition, Jay Sjervn, President of the United Nations Association and journalist for Sosland Publishing, Michael Wizniak UMKC Faculty and Courtney Brooks Executive Director of Global Ties KC. Through a lively two hour discussion, they tackled the question “how would you convince the government of Tajikistan to hear the voice of the people”. They discussed fake news, access to the internet, the history of Tajikistan, and the age old principle in journalism of an obligation to the truth.

In the United States, amongst the frequent cries of ‘fake news’, and with a corroding trust in journalism, the current challenge is how to boost trust in media, while bolstering reliable vetted news agencies in the age of social media and otherwise free information. In Tajikistan, the challenges are more complicated. Against a background of Tajikistan’s civil war in the 1990’s, where as many as 80 journalists died, they have a long history of only having public media (i.e. government sanctioned and supported) news outlets.

This becomes even more complicated when you factor in the limited access to the internet. If you haven’t followed the news this month, it’s worth looking into.

An hour long meeting turned into a two hour long brain-trust. While all the world’s problems were not solved in this time, it’s through frank, honest conversations like this that we are making the world a smaller place.