Closed Circuit – Information in the age of digital media

The Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Institute of Contemporary Arts: ICA present Closed Circuit, a series of broadcast discussions on the status of information in the age of digital media.

Bringing together figures from the worlds of journalism, politics, media theory and the arts, the series spans state-sponsored propaganda, ‘fake news’, revised histories, and the role of non-disclosure agreements and whistle-blowers in the shaping of public perceptions. It also looks at ways in which narratives are formed within the digital sphere through aesthetic and linguistic registers.


Closed Circuit – Part 1: Disinformation

Filmed in front of a studio audience and available to stream live, the first episode, ‘Disinformation’, took place on Wednesday 30 October 2019. It addressed the subject of false information spread deliberately to deceive. From Russian bots to recent controversies over the British government’s counter-propaganda efforts, what does disinformation really mean and who are its practitioners? How does disinformation function across both language and image? Participants include artist Sophia Al Maria, writer Hossein Derakhshan, and journalists Sophia Ignatidou and Matt Kennard. Moderated by CIJ Director James Harkin.

You can watch the conversation in full --> HERE

The speakers:

Sophia Al-Maria is a Qatari-American screenwriter and artist. Her new film Beast Type Song is currently showing at Tate Britain as part of the Art Now program until February 2020. Her book Sad Sack (2019) is out with Bookworks.


Hossein Derakhshan is an Iranian-Canadian writer and researcher who focuses on the long-term socio-political impacts of media and technology. In the early 2000s, he introduced blogging to Iran, which earned him the title of ‘blogfather’. He was imprisoned in Tehran from 2008–14 for his writings and online activism. Derakhshan is the author of the longform essay ‘The Web We Have to Save’ (2015), a co-author of the Council of Europe’s report into disinformation, ‘Information Disorder: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policymaking’ (2017), and he has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianLibérationMIT Technology ReviewWired, and other outlets.


Sophia Ignatidou is an Academy Stavros Niarchos Foundation Fellow at the International Security Department of Chatham House. She researches artificial intelligence, disinformation, political campaigning, propaganda and surveillance. Before joining Chatham House in 2018, she was working as a freelance journalist and digital sub-editor for The GuardianThe Sunday Times, and CNN, among others. Sophia holds an MA in Journalism from Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as an MA/PGDip in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Matt Kennard is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Declassified UK, a new outlet covering British national security issues. He worked as a staff writer for the Financial Times in the US and UK and is the author of two books, Irregular Army (2012), which investigated the degradation of the US military during the War on Terror and The Racket (2015), which investigated how the US rigs the global economy for the benefit of its elite.

Closed Circuit – Part 2: True Information
For the second episode, writer Simon Akam, international whistle-blower lawyer Mary Inman, journalist and editor Joseph Farrell, New York Times-bestselling author Tom Mueller, and former assistant to Harvey Weinstein Zelda Perkins discuss the controversial publication of protected information.

Amid crackdowns on whistle-blowers, the increasingly controversial use of NDA’s to control information and the role of radical publishers like Wikileaks in making private information available to the public, where do we draw the line when it comes to the publication of true, but sensitive or potentially damaging information? With a plethora of new tools to make information visible, what are the responsibilities of whistle-blowers, artists and investigators?


Closed Circuit was filmed in front of a studio audience on Wednesday 29 January 2020.
You can watch the conversation in full -->  HERE & HERE


The speakers:

Simon Akam is a British writer. He worked at the New York Times and subsequently spent several years in West Africa as a freelance correspondent for Reuters and The Economist. In 2015 Simon was commissioned by Penguin Random House imprint William Heinemann to write a narrative non-fiction book on the post-9/11 evolution of the British Army. Called The Changing of the Guard, the book was due to be published in March 2019. Two months before publication, following external pressures, the publisher demanded that Simon instigate full ‘copy approval’ for his book. Despite the involvement of eight press freedom organisations – including the CIJ, RSF, Index on Censorship, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom – PRH cancelled the book’s publication.


Mary Inman is an international whistle-blower lawyer; representing whistle-blowers in the UK, EU & worldwide under the American whistle-blower reward programs.


Joseph Farrell is a British journalist and editor who has worked for the Centre for Investigative Journalism, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, WikiLeaks and is currently heading up the NGO Tenure. He has been a section editor for many important WikiLeaks' publications including the Iraq and Afghan War Logs and Cablegate to name but a few. He was a member of the Civil Society Coalition at the WIPO diplomatic conference on a treaty for copyright exceptions for persons with disabilities in Marrakesh, Morocco. Farrell regularly appears on TV networks analysing the week's news headlines.


Tom Mueller is a New York Times-bestselling author whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times MagazineAtlantic Monthly and elsewhere. He has reported from 22 countries on a wide range of topics, with recent emphasis on fraud and institutional corruption. His most recent book is Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an Age of Fraud, published by Atlantic Books in the UK and by Penguin Random House in the US. This work, the result of 7 years of research and reporting and over 200 interviews with whistleblowers, traces the rise of whistleblowing as a legal and social phenomenon.


Zelda Perkins is a Theatre Producer for Robert Fox Ltd and a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein. She publicly broke the 20-year silence on her non-disclosure agreement in 2017, facing the risk of legal action to talk about what she faced and its contents. In 2018 and 2019, Perkins testified before parliament to push change in regulation and legislation around such employment contracts and settlement agreements. She is currently campaigning with the Women and Equalities Committee and legal regulatory bodies to change the way NDA’s are structured within the law.



With the support of:

Reva and David Logan Foundation