November 23, 2017
Secretary Madeleine Albright, Dr. Phil Howard (Oxford Internet Institute), Maria Ressa (Rappler), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Margo Gontar (StopFake.org). Photo credit: Margot Schulman
While the US press coverage on disinformation has focused on Russian interference in the U.S. elections, the problem of disinformation is global in scale. At its annual Democracy Dinner entitled ‘Disinformation vs. Democracy: Fighting for Facts’, held on November 2 in Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C., the National Democratic Institute (NDI) honored three organizations on the front lines of fighting the global challenge of disinformation and false news.
Margo Gontar, co-founder and editor of StopFake and a TV host of the weekly news digest “StopFake News”, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. In her acceptance speech, Margo keenly pointed out that Russia has no coherent ideological or political alternative to offer, but aims to disrupt and undermine democracy. She was also optimistic and hopeful about fighting propaganda: “Any crisis brings an opportunity. It shows where our architecture is lacking, and what can be improved. It gives us a chance by overcoming it, to make this world an even better place”. Margo accepted the award from Secretary Madelein K. Albright.
In 2014, in the aftermath of the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, the vacuum of reliable information in the Ukrainian media was filled by a deluge of misinformation and propaganda from Russia. To counter this, a small group at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy School of Journalism established StopFake, a media organization devoted solely to debunking fake news and Russian propaganda. Today, three years later, StopFake is a multi-platform media outlet with a nightly TV show broadcast on 30 local channels, a weekly radio show, strong social media following, multiple awards and recognition from the world’s top media agencies.
NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Every year the NDI recognizes organizations that have demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to democracy and human rights. This year, StopFake was in the company of two other recipients of the award: Oxford Internet Institute’s Project on Computational Propaganda and Rappler in the Philippines.