Home Internet How to fix the internet: A thought-provoking conversation with Norah O’Donnell and Frank McCourt

How to fix the internet: A thought-provoking conversation with Norah O’Donnell and Frank McCourt

On March 18, 2024, the McCourt School of Public Policy’s Tech & Public Policy program hosted Georgetown University alums Norah O’Donnell (C‘95, G’03), anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News, and Frank McCourt (C’75), founder of Project Liberty and founding donor of the McCourt School, for a thought-provoking discussion on technology, democracy and the future of the internet.

Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia welcomed members of the campus community and special guests, followed by an introduction from Tech & Public Policy Scholar Santiago Vidal Calvo (MPP’25), an international student from Caracas, Venezuela.

Tech & Public Policy Scholar Santiago Vidal Calvo (MPP’25) introduced Georgetown University alums Norah O’Donnell (C‘95, G’03) and Frank McCourt (C’75).

The event, held in Riggs Library on Georgetown’s Hilltop Campus, commemorated the publication of McCourt’s new book, Our Biggest Fight: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age, with acclaimed author and journalist Michael J. Casey.

In Our Biggest Fight, McCourt and Casey boldly assert that the internet as we know it is broken and suggest that a reimagination of its framework could address its inherent flaws. The book has drawn praise from leaders across business and media, including Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic, who said that “everyone who cares about the changes and the challenges that lie ahead should read [it].”

Norah O’Donnell (C‘95, G’03) holds Our Biggest Fight
Norah O’Donnell (C‘95, G’03) called Our Biggest Fight “an excellent read and…also a bit scary in some ways to think about,” adding that she was annotating the book with a highlighter pen. Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

Citing a growing body of research, including on harms to children, McCourt concluded that “[social media] is designed to polarize us, to keep us in a constant state of argument and to be triggered.” In response to audience members’ questions about the future, he expressed a hopefulness for change.

Frank McCourt (C'75)
Frank McCourt (C’75) addressed questions from members of the audience before a reception in celebration of his new book with Michael J. Casey. Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

“It won’t be easy, but it can be done, and it needs to be done,” he said. “We have the power [to fix the problem] if we have enough of us.”

 

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