The 2023 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy


It’s time to look back on another successful edition of the Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy, which took place from April 12th to 14th in Vienna. Launched in 2001, the Milton Wolf Seminar Series addresses developing issues in diplomacy and journalism – both broadly defined. The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, The American Austrian Foundation (AAF), and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna (DA) have jointly organized this seminar since 2010. Panelists include individuals working for state and multilateral organizations, journalists, civil society actors, representatives from media and internet companies, and academics. The Milton Wolf Seminar Series particularly emphasizes the contribution of young and mid-career scholars, by inviting a select group of outstanding graduate students each year to attend the seminar in Vienna as Emerging Scholar fellows.

Every Milton Wolf Seminar has explored the media’s role in international relations in some dimension. Today, public trust in journalistic institutions has plummeted as authoritarianism is on the rise. Governments across the political spectrum are reimagining their public diplomacy and international broadcasting efforts. Panelists and Emerging Scholars at the 2023 Seminar entitled, “Media at the Abyss: War, Deglobalization, and the Diplomatic Response” discussed critical questions and potential solutions to current challenges facing media and diplomacy, such as what is the shape and form of journalism and information in a de-globalizing world? What sort of regulatory models for media platforms should be pursued?  Are there any local, national, or global interventions that suggest new pathways forward? What are the implications of these trends for transnational activism and social justice movements? Invited guests included academics, researchers, legal experts, technologists, citizen activists, regulators, diplomats, and journalists actively involved in identifying and building different solutions.

The seminar is structured as a two-day ongoing conversation where all participants were encouraged to actively engage in dialogue and explore possibilities for collaboration and future research. At the center of the discussion were recent developments in both traditional and emerging media, as well as the evolving legal and regulatory frameworks and diplomatic interventions. Through case studies, the seminar offered both cautionary tales and examples of how governments, journalists, activists, and media organizations, have attempted to influence the contemporary media environment, characterized by issues like misinformation, fragmentation and declining trust in information sources. During the event, panelists engaged in thoughtful discussions, addressing potential remedies for the pressing challenges facing media and diplomacy.

Every year, Emerging Scholar fellows serve as rapporteurs for the event and author a blog post documenting and analyzing the seminar discussions.

Read their blog posts here:

David Berman, one of this year’s emerging scholars, presented a comprehensive report mapping the evolution of our understanding of social media’s influence on democracy. Through in-depth analysis, interviews with seminar organizers, and real-time observations at the 2023 Milton Wolf Seminar (the first post-COVID gathering), Berman unveils the intricate evolution of attitudes towards technology and its role in shaping democracy.

Read his full report here: