DR. STEVEN LIVINGSTON
Steven Livingston is a Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs at The George Washington University with appointments in the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA). Livingston’s principal research centers on digitally enabled collective action – or governance– in areas of limited statehood, places where the state is weak and ineffectual. He also continues to research questions relating to news coverage of political conflict. Lastly, he works in research and development in information communication technology.
His interests have led to extended stays in Northern Ireland, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and East and Central Africa. He went to Iraq twice in 2008 and once in 2009. At the invitation of the Canadian government and NATO, he was in Afghanistan in 2009 and again in 2010. He has advised a wide range of governments, the U.N. and NGOs on matters relating to governance, capacity building, media and media relations, technology, and public opinion dynamics. Among other publications, Livingston has written Clarifying the CNN Effect (Harvard University Press, 1996), The Terrorism Spectacle (Westview Press, 1994), When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina (W. Lance Bennett and Regina Lawrence, co-authors) (University of Chicago Press, 2007), and Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood (with Gregor Walter-Drop) (Oxford University Press, 2013). In 2011, he published Africa’s New Emerging InfoSystems: New Pathways to Security and Stability (NDU Press, 2011). A follow-up study, Africa’s Information Revolution: Implications for Crime, Policing, and Citizen Security was published in 2013.
AMBASSADOR JOHN W. MCDONALD
Ambassador John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, international civil servant, development expert and peacebuilder who is concerned about world social, economic, and ethnic problems. He had a 40-year career in the U.S. foreign service from 1947-1987 and is now an advisor to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. He spent twenty years of his diplomatic career in Western Europe and the Middle East and worked for another sixteen years on United Nations economic and social affairs. He is currently Chairman and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington D.C., which focuses on national and international ethnic conflicts and helps the United Nations achieve its MDGs on clean drinking water and sanitation. He is UNEP’s North American Representative to the International Environmental Governance Advisory Group. He is most well-known for secretly, and on his own personal initiative, brokering a successful and sustainable peace agreement in Cyprus without approval or backing and before the Department of State even knew he was doing so.
Before his retirement from the Department of State, Ambassador McDonald was the Coordinator for Multilateral Affairs at the State Department Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs. In the late seventies he was the Deputy Director General of the International Labor Organization. He has a J.D. from the University of Illinois and has taught at prestigious universities across the country and world, most recently around the District of Columbia. Throughout the later 20th century Ambassador McDonald was the chief envoy in a huge number of U.S. and international delegations to the U.N. on subjects including culture, economic development, technology, social affairs, ethnic fighting, environmental affairs, and peace policy.
John brings with him a career of seven decades and work experience in 110 countries.
DR. VIRGIL HAWKINS
Dr. Virgil Hawkins studies and has spent his career working in the sectors of poverty alleviation, health improvement systems, and conflict response in Africa. In conflict, Virgil pays the most attention to what he calls “stealth conflicts”— conflicts that are marginalized and ignored by outside actors, including media agencies. His research looks at the ways in which actors respond (or fail to respond) to these and other conflicts.
Virgil teaches classes on conflict response, media, and poverty and health at the Osaka University School of International Public Policy. He spent six years living and working throughout sub-Saharan Africa and maintains important media contacts across the continent. Attached is a piece from Virgil:
"Our world is becoming increasingly and inextricably intertwined thanks to the process of globalization. Events and issues in any corner of the world potentially have the power to affect our lives, just as our actions can influence the lives of people living on the other side of the globe.
"The ability to respond to events and issues in such a world is contingent on our access to information. In this sense, the mass media, which links people and policymakers, has a crucial role to play.
"As the rise of the internet and satellite transmission demonstrate, great advances have been made in terms of the technology that now enables us in theory to access more information about the world than ever before. But what about advances in terms of the actual information the mass media provides - the quantity and quality of information about this interconnected world of ours?"
Dr. Hawkins is the author of Stealth Conflicts: How the World's Worst Violence is Ignored (Ashgate, 2008), a book that traces information flows from conflict zones to the end-reader and tries to understand why the world’s worst wars are often the least reported.
MATTHEW R. BISHOP
Matthew R. Bishop is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer for World Report News. World Report News is the second news company Matt has run, and launched officially in May 2015.
In May 2011, at the age of 21, Matthew founded World Report: The Student Journal for International Affairs. Creating a core staff from a worldwide network of volunteer writers and editors, and using only two hundred dollars in total for all operational expenses, Matthew was able to gain an audience of more than 60,000 weekly online readers in the first year of operations. By the time Matt shut down the journal, it's audience was one third the size of Foreign Affairs magazine. He ran the network part-time while finishing his B.A. at Ohio University, where he studied world history and also taught rock climbing part-time at the university gym. During these years Matt's first company operated in seven time zones and had major publications produced in locations as far away as St. Petersburg and Mogadishu.
Matt’s academic focus has always centered around the ways in which language, information, and communication results in or modifies grand-scheme social and political movements, violent and nonviolent alike. His undergraduate honor’s thesis, A Comparative Analysis of the Radical Press in the American and French Revolutions, explored how radical writers used language either to deter or support violent pro-revolutionary mass actions. After graduating from Ohio University and following the success of World Report: The Student Journal for International Affairs, Matthew moved to Washington, D.C. and completed a Master of Arts in Global Communications with a focus in conflict prevention journalism at The George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs.
His graduate thesis, Iraqi Civilian Death in American Mass Media: The Causes and Consequences of Silence, investigated the reasons for and results of American mass media silence on the subject of civilian death in the 2003-12 Iraq War. This thesis also introduced the theory of “passive dehumanization” to the field of media and conflict studies. As a major component of his dissertation, Matt identified the flaws and shortcomings in American mass media coverage of foreign wars and conflicts, then proceeded to introduce specific ways to overcome these problems. These findings provided journalists, editors, and media executives with guidelines to use for publishing more proactive and socially conscious world news. They form the basic operational goals for World Report News.
Matt has also been an active grassroots organizer. To start his first media company, Matt traveled to universities throughout Ohio while still taking classes, asking students and professors to lend their research skills. He arranged final exam projects with professors to help motivate students and to find talented young writers. Matt also helped set up chapters of STAND Against Genocide around Ohio. He has presented to schools on the use of social media in grassroots foreign policy advocacy, has lectured on the subject of media and government, and has led workshops on genocide intervention policy and international corporate policy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.