Media and the Future of Democracy


How can the media help to strengthen democracy? What can it do about the loss of public trust? And how can it combat the influence of disinformation? Our partnership with the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium in Potsdam and the M100 Media Forum Tbilissi is intended to get to the bottom of these and other questions.

Under the title Between Ambition and Disarray: The Future of Democracy, the high-level symposium addresses media professionals, NGOs and democratic reformers from politics as well as - with a public section - the interested public. The central goal is to strengthen democracy, freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. The two-day M100 Media Forum in Tbilisi also contributes to the further internationalisation of the media conference beyond the symposium in Potsdam and aims to promote international exchange in Eastern Europe. As an independent format, its line-up and programme take account of its special venue.

The Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft is co-host and strategic partner of the M100 Media Forum Tbilisi and the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. In this sense, we are co-hosting the symposium in Georgia and curating a Strategic Working Group. Building on the results from Georgia, we are also co-hosting a workshop at the international media conference M100 Sansoucci Colloquium in Potsdam.


Democracy is in peril across the world, with the Democracy Index 2022 showing authoritarian regimes on the rise again. In times of crisis, strengthening and defending democracy is one of the most vital tasks for politics, society and the media.

An independent media and the ideal of trustworthy, factual reporting are a supreme good, a pillar of democracy. Functioning journalism is essential to combat polarisation and authoritarianism and enable an inclusive, deliberative process of public debate and democratic decision-making. But sources of media funding are drying up, fewer people are watching or reading the news and trust in the media is declining. Moreover, the rise of authoritarian, anti-democratic movements threatens independent journalism, while disinformation is spreading more rapidly than ever and manipulating public discourse.

That’s why, in partnership with the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium and the M100 Media Forum Tbilissi, we want to take action to strengthen media and press freedom and stand up for democracy. We’ll be tackling the challenges facing our media and democracy and asking how the press can help strengthen democracy in the face of the current crises.


The M100 Media Forum in Tbilisi will focus on the situation in Georgia. Tbilisi is the capital of a young, emerging democracy that is under enormous strain. Russia has not only threatened Georgian national security ever since the 2008 invasion, but the country that the ZEIT once described as ‘a beacon of hope’ is riven by internal tensions. While a the populace is overwhelmingly pro-EU and is eager to join the European Union, the current government has increasingly turned towards Russia under the ruling party Georgian Dream.

The fledgling democracy is anything but secure In recent times, progress on democracy and rule of law has been significantly rolled back.Civil society and journalism are under pressure. An opressive bill that was cracking down on civil-society groups and the media was just withdrawn after massive riots, but journalists and critical activists are still censored, intimidated and attacked. Nevertheless, Georgia is a country at the crossroads, with an impressively vibrant civil society and committed journalists.


Ahead of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium (taking place at the Orangerie Sanssouci in Potsdam on 14 September), the M100 Media Forum Tbilissa will be held in Georgia in June. There will be two parts to the forum. In the first part of the symposium, a selected working group of experts from Georgia, other European countries and the USA will discuss the specific challenges of democratic development in Georgia for the media, civil society and politics in a workshop. The second will be a public event aimed at interested members of the public. Following introductory remarks by high-level keynote speakers, the findings from the workshop will be presented.

The ideas and insights from Georgia will feed into the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, where they will be developed by the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft’s strategic working group.

The group’s findings will be compiled and later published.

Please feel free to contact Antonia Marx with any enquiries.