Person

Anya Schiffrin

Nationality:

American

Born:

1962

Profession:

Professor, Columbia University

Anya Schiffrin is the director of the Technology, Media, and Communications at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is also a member of the global board at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. [1]

Schiffrin first attracted fame for her reporting on the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland in 2011, when she criticized the lack of representation of women at the event. She was attending the gathering with her husband, left-wing economist Joseph Stiglitz. [2]

She has since focused on the media landscape and combatting so-called misinformation. She has become an advocate of a state-subsidized media and an increased government role in regulating what media outlets should publish.

Early Life

Anya Schiffrin was born in 1962; her father was a book publisher. She graduated from Reed College in Oregon and received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. [3]

From 1997 to 1999, she was a bureau chief in Hanoi, Vietnam for Dow Jones. She then joined the staff of Columbia University, training journalists in the School of International and Public Affairs. [4]

In 2004, she married Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist known for his opposition to free-market economics. [5]

“Davos Wife” Reporting

In 2011, Schiffrin attended the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland with her husband. She reported on the event for the Guardian newspaper and Reuters. [6]

Schiffrin’s reporting focused on the relatively few female participants at Davos, where female representation had been stuck at 15 to 17 percent for years. She also complained about being a “Davos wife” and that she was given a white, name-only badge with no affiliation that made her feel unimportant. Schiffrin also complained that she would sometimes be barred from popular sessions and given last priority in admittance to other sessions. [7]

A feminist writer criticized Schiffrin’s reporting for focusing too much on the “Davos wife” at the expense of pushing for greater gender equality at the event. It compared Schiffrin’s attempts at satire to toilet humor. The writer also suggested that Schiffrin should stay home until she was invited to the event of her own accord. [8]

Protesting Donald Trump

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump attended the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and gave a speech promoting his economic agenda. Schiffrin and her husband decided to protest the speech. [9]

Stiglitz drafted a handout with facts that he claimed shined a light on growing economic inequality in the United States. Among Stiglitz’s criticisms were the high number of Americans working low wage jobs and lack of progress in reducing the racial gap in wages. Schiffrin distributed the handout to attendees of Trump’s speech. [10]

Media Criticism

Schiffrin is a critic of the current media landscape. She claims that it is too easy to promote misinformation via social media and that media ownership is too concentrated and serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful. She also advocates requiring social media and technology companies to pay for media content on their platforms as a way of supporting media outlets and preventing the spread of “low quality” media. [11]

Schiffrin is also an advocate of government funding of the media, to create networks of public television and radio stations and subsidized newspapers. She claims that government funding of the media would make the “views of local communities” be heard over the “corporate, syndicated right-wing voices.” [12]

References

  1. “Anya Schiffrin.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 25, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/who-we-are/global-board/member/anya-schiffrin. ^
  2. Schiffrin, Anya. “Davos And The Gender Quota.” The Guardian. Jan. 25, 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/25/davos-economics. ^
  3. “Anya Schiffrin, Joseph Stiglitz.” New York Times. Oct. 31, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/fashion/anya-schiffrin-joseph-stiglitz.html. ^
  4. “Anya Schiffrin, Joseph Stiglitz.” New York Times. Oct. 31, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/fashion/anya-schiffrin-joseph-stiglitz.html. ^
  5. “Anya Schiffrin, Joseph Stiglitz.” New York Times. Oct. 31, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/fashion/anya-schiffrin-joseph-stiglitz.html. ^
  6. Schiffrin, Anya. “Davos And The Gender Quota.” The Guardian. Jan. 25, 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/25/davos-economics. ^
  7. Schiffrin, Anya. “Davos And The Gender Quota.” The Guardian. Jan. 25, 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/25/davos-economics. ^
  8. Mack, Jessica. “‘Davos Wife’ Misses The Most Important Point About Gender Equity.” Ms. Magazine. Jan. 28, 2011. https://msmagazine.com/2011/01/28/davos-wife-misses-the-most-important-point-about-gender-equity/. ^
  9. Connelly, Irene. “Economist Joseph Stiglitz Goes Analog To Rebut Trump At Davos In Real Time.” The Forward. Jan. 20, 2020. https://forward.com/schmooze/438636/joseph-stiglitz-davos/. ^
  10. Connelly, Irene. “Economist Joseph Stiglitz Goes Analog To Rebut Trump At Davos In Real Time.” The Forward. Jan. 20, 2020. https://forward.com/schmooze/438636/joseph-stiglitz-davos/. ^
  11. Schiffrin, Anya. “Media Capture In The Digital Age.” Center For International Media Assistance. June 17, 2021. https://www.cima.ned.org/blog/media-capture-in-the-digital-age/. ^
  12. Schiffrin, Anya. “Who Will Save The News?.” The Nation. Oct. 6, 2020. https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/victor-pickard-democracy-without-journalism-review/. ^
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