The Media and Politics
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“In the beginning it was really challenging, but as the course progressed, I began to understand the material with the help from Ms. Hudson and my classmates… I was surprised how much I learned about current issues and American history.” - Marilynne Cheng, 2013
Does the government control the media—or do the media control the government? Do the news media educate or manipulate the citizenry? What is the relation between the American news media and the American government, and how does this compare to media-government relations in other countries? What are the possibilities and the limitations of the different media—newspaper, film, radio, television, internet? How do representations of America differ in domestic and global news media? And what has the impact been of the new information technologies—most recently, the “blogosphere”—upon the traditional media and upon the political role of citizens?
This course explores these questions by focusing on a number of national and global events, from the past and the present, in which the relation between the media and politics came into stark relief or was even redefined. Topics from the American experience include yellow journalism of the Spanish-American war, films of World War II, photography during the Vietnam War, investigative journalism during Watergate, manipulation of the news in presidential campaigns, embedded journalism in Iraq, and 24-hour coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Global issues include the use of the internet by the Zapatistas in Mexico, the role of the media in humanitarian crises such as in Somalia and Darfur, the competition between bloggers and state censors in China, and the struggle to establish community radio in Haiti.
Students participate in daily discussions and debates in class. They read American and non-American news sources every day and learn how to interpret and analyze the news in all its forms. Students take an up-close and personal look at how, where, and by whom news is made through field trips and guest speakers.
Michelle Chun is a JD/PhD candidate in Columbia’s Law School and Department of Political Science, where she focuses on legal and political theory. Her dissertation examines issues in contemporary democratic theory and jurisprudence through the lens of John Dewey’s thought. At Columbia, she has served as a teaching assistant in courses on justice, the history of human rights, the First Amendment, and Middle Eastern politics, among others, and as a writing consultant at the University’s Writing Center. She holds an MA, MPhil, and JD from Columbia and an undergraduate degree with highest honors in social studies from Harvard College.
Specific course information, such as hours and instructors, are subject to change at the discretion of the University.