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Moderators - Lizbeth Hasse & Vladimir Orlov

Cinemetography - J Mitchell Johnson, Kim Spencer / Project Consultant - J Mitchell Johnson / Edited By - Stanislov Kirienko


In the first session of Whom Do We Trust 2018, moderated by Lizbeth Hasse and Vladimir Orlov, Russian college students Nick M. and Anastasia and American students Nick R. and Luisa were asked to explore how they construct their perceptions.


How do they form political opinions? Which sources of news do they rely on and how have they come to trust these sources over others? What habits and strategies do they have for gathering and analyzing information? Who influences their process of perception-building?


They cited consumption of traditional news agencies (the old media) and experts (scholars, public servants), but shared that increasingly they and their peers rely on new media in the form of bloggers, YouTube personalities, and mobile apps to aggregate and analyze information.


In assessing the credibility of a particular news source, the students reported that they are keenly aware of the role that corporate funding and government censorship can play, and that smaller, more independent news agencies often provide critical perspectives on issues that matter greatly to them. In the same breath, the students recognized that these smaller agencies may be more susceptible to external pressures and may not employ the same level of journalistic standards as their larger counterparts do.


These students expressed a great deal of skepticism of all information and sources, as well as an inherent recognition that all sources are biased to a certain degree. Nick R. noted that it’s important to recognize that these biases are natural, and that the recognition, disclosure, and exploration of biases was an important factor when assessing the credibility of a news agency or individual.


Across the board, these Russian and American students said that they seek out multiple sources’ reporting on the same issue to look for inconsistencies and different points of view. It’s only after they’ve cross-referenced a story that they form their opinion. There was agreement that there is a high degree of personal responsibility required to trust very little and verify all. At the same time, the question was raised: in the face of information overwhelm, how often do we really engage in such principled and intentional information consumption?


We invite you to watch the video for a more detailed understanding of the nuances of these students’ observations and experiences.


If you wish to request a transcript of this session, please email

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