March 8, 2021

Technology, Democracy, and Winning the Information War

We were thrilled to have Nina Jankowicz, Disinformation Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., join us on MentorTalks on Wednesday, March 24th to discuss strengthening democracy and defeating disinformation. In addition Nina also shared tips for young professionals looking to advance their careers, including how to overcome imposter syndrome and why it’s never too late to change course.

As a former Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow, Nina discussed how her exchange helped inform her career path and specifically how her time abroad enabled a deeper understanding of a reality facing us all when it comes to the war on information. By delving into this topic in Ukraine during her program, Nina saw first-hand the harmful effect it can have on society. Looking at the present day, she cited January 6, 2021 as another example of the harmful effects of disinformation.

Reflecting on her exchange experience, Nina noted the fellowship was one of the most important experiences of her life. While offering a closer look into how disinformation can be used to sway and influence people, her exchange also helped to pave the way for mutual trust and understanding between the U.S. and Ukraine. By working with colleagues on the ground committed to the same cause, she formed connections with other like-minded media literary activists whom she is still in touch with. 

Nina’sHer experience in Ukraine ultimately served as the inspiration for the idea behind her book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict, which details the motivations behind mis/disinformation campaigns and what we can do to defeat them.

Nina also offered advice for young professionals, including tips for combatting imposter syndrome. While we are all on our own paths, Nina reminded the audience that “you are exactly where you’re meant to be.” She specifically notes that women often tend to undervalue their expertise and they would be better served dispensing of that mindset.

Another tip she offered was that it’s never too late to pursue your career - and you never know where your career will lead you. She said she often tells her mentees that if they can identify what they are passionate about in each job they have, they can end up in a place where they’re doing fulfilling work. “We can’t plan everything out, and it’s okay to not know – as long as we’re following our passions and careers,” she says. 

Did you miss the live event? Watch it above, or visit @internationalexchangealumni on Facebook and tune in to hear how Nina is shaping the discourse on media literacy and disinformation.


About Nina Jankowicz

Nina Jankowicz studies the intersection of democracy and technology in Central and Eastern Europe. She is the author of How To Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict (Bloomsbury/IBTauris). Nina has advised the Ukrainian government on strategic communications under the auspices of a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. Her writing has been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and others. She is a frequent television and radio commentator on disinformation and Russian and Eastern European affairs. 

Prior to her Fulbright grant in Ukraine, Ms. Jankowicz managed democracy assistance programs to Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. She received her MA in Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and her BA from Bryn Mawr College.

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