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Internet’s effect on democracy is subject of next KIPCOR film

October 26th, 2018

Detail from CD cover for "Digital Disconnect"

The second film in the KIPCOR Film Series for 2018-19 season screens Sunday, November 4, in Krehbiel Auditorium at 2 pm.

The screening of Digital Disconnect is sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Bethel College’s peacebuilding institute. Note the earlier-than-usual start time (to accommodate a music program later in the afternoon).

The KIPCOR Film Series is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the series and the work of KIPCOR.

“The film focuses on the relationship between the internet and democracy in this age of fake news, security breaches, etc.,” said Dan Wassink, KIPCOR senior mediator and coordinator of the film series.

“It examines the original intent of the internet and how its ‘democratizing potential’ has been severely compromised over the years due partly to the power and profit motives of a few telecoms and tech monopolies. The movie is largely based on the work of media scholar Robert McChesney.”

Many of the issues raised in Digital Disconnect come straight out of the headlines: attacks on net neutrality by telecom monopolies like Comcast and Verizon; how internet giants like Facebook and Google amass enormous profits by surreptitiously collecting personal data and selling it to advertisers; how the rise of social media as a leading information source has isolated people into ideological “filter bubbles” and elevated fake news at the expense of real journalism.

Digital Disconnect raises crucial questions about who gets to control the internet and what that means for democracy.

The post-film discussion leader will be Jennifer Cole, co-founder of depICT Media, a social media managing and consulting service in Wichita.

Digital Disconnect was released in 2018 by Media Education Foundation. Directed by Jeremy Earp and written by Earp and McChesney, it is based on McChesney’s 2013 book of the same title, which bears the subtitle “How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy.”

McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work concentrates on the history and political economy of communication, emphasizing the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies.

McChesney co-founded Free Press, a national media reform organization, in 2002. He also hosted the “Media Matters” weekly radio program on NPR affiliate WILL-AM from 2002-12.

The KIPCOR Film Series is funded in part through the KIPCOR Peace Lecture Endowment.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.