LA participants in the 2020 Camden Conference, from left: history teacher Nate Smith, senior Chris Decker, senior Filip Nguyen, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kelley Duffy, and senior Erin Dworkin.

by Erin Dworkin ’20

Three Lincoln Academy students, Christopher Decker, Erin Dworkin, and Filip Nguyen, and two of LA’s teachers, Mrs. Duffy and Mr. Smith, attended the annual Camden Conference February 21-23. The LA group participated in the 33rd Camden Conference where the nonprofit, non-partisan educational organization explored the topic: “The Media Revolution,” by inviting multiple experts to speak. The broad topic brought together the poignant discussions of media literacy, “imposter news,” internet and corporate regulation, journalism, and safety among journalists.

The Conference was spread over three days, Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The guest speakers presented from the Camden Opera House and live-streamed into Portland, Belfast, and The Strand Theater in Rockland, where LA’s representatives watched. Friday evening attendees heard from keynote speaker, Nicco Mele, who works at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and is the co-chair of the Harvard Council on the Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence. On Saturday some of the noteworthy speakers were Joshua Tucker, Professor of Politics, affiliated Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, and affiliated Professor of Data Science at New York University, Courtney C. Radsch, advocacy director with The Committee to Protect Journalists, Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler.com, and Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, journalist, social activist, and author of book, Los Demonios del Edén (Demons of Eden).

The last speaker of the conference was Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, the Walter and Leonore Director of the university’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, and Program Director of the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. The conference was moderated by David Brancaccio of NPR’s “Marketplace.”

The speakers all had different interpretations and captivating opinions on the topic. The range of information span from the speakers’ personal relationships with journalism, to data analysis of the internet’s impact on journalism, to media’s role in activism. They all gave excellent insights into the topic and all participated in individual and group question and answer sessions. The audience was able to submit questions from the Opera House and the Satellite locations, and Lincoln Academy students participated by submitting questions. Question topics included the ambiguity around corporate regulations, and data privacy regulations surrounding Facebook. In the questioning session, the speakers all agreed on the importance of local news sources as the cure to many of the issues with media today.

The Camden Conference was a great opportunity for LA students to represent a portion of Maine’s youth, especially considering the 65+ majority demographic in attendance. The conference was also a great place for young and old to observe and learn how to conduct polite discussion, debate, and reports. The conference succeeded and excelled at taking global topics, with internationally famous speakers, and focusing on how those global topics become local. For those that are interested in furthering their knowledge, learning the art of public speaking and deliberation, or simply want something to spark a conversation at the dinner table, seriously think about attending a future Camden Conference.

Erin Dworkin is a senior at Lincoln Academy, where she is a member of the Debate and Model UN teams.