Peter Pomerantsev, SNF Agora senior fellow and author who specializes in propaganda and media development, released a radio documentary called “The Return of Reality?” in June.
Part of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis series, the documentary explores the relationship between COVID-19, identity, and polarization. “The Return of Reality?” analyzes what the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic challenges means for our sense of shared reality, exploring the question, “Is a global health crisis the moment we are forced to start agreeing on a shared set of facts and respect common sources of truth?” The radio segment walks viewers through the rise of polarization, division, and “knowledge resistance,” and how they relate to COVID-19. The segment also analyzes how the rise of polarization, partisan media, and disinformation has contributed to identity overshadowing facts during the pandemic. The episode, released on June 1, 2020, can be accessed here.
Pomerantsev had earlier released “The New Censorship” in October 2019, which explores the history of censorship in Soviet-era Russia, the re-emergence of censorship in the current digital age, and ways the powerful and authoritarian governments are using digital media to silence dissent and opposition. The documentary challenges listeners to think about the relationship between democracy, censorship, and freedom of expression in new ways. Fans of Pomertansev’s 2019 book This is Not Propaganda will enjoy “The New Censorship.” The radio documentary was released on October 27, 2019 and can be accessed here.