What is the relationship between journalism and culture? How does the news both inform citizens and bind them together in a community? What does it mean to say the job of the reporter was “invented?” What is the history of news?
This class aims to take us beyond vague feelings and invocations of “media bias,” and towards a deeper understanding of why the media is the way it is what it means to say that the media has an ideology. It will examine the classic theories of the ideology in the media system, look at some empirical research examining the ideological aspects of media production, and carry us into the present day by looking how older theories might need to be adjusted or abandoned in our digital world.
The goal of this class is to leave students with a deeper intellectual understanding of what the audience “is” and how it has been conceived over the course of modern media history. This class is not merely an academic exercise, however. In the next 15 weeks, you will gain an understanding of how the media industries think about and measure audiences. This is a course about audiences. All of you have been members of a media audience at some point in your lives; many of you will spend more time as a member of an “audience” than you do as a member of any other single group. But while audiences are commonplace, the nature of them is not easy to understand.
What is broadcast journalism? How can we learn to be journalists operating in the fields of radio and television, especially when both these mediums are being radically transformed by the internet? What is the history of broadcasting, as a cultural, political, and journalistic force? How has broadcast news been praised, or vilified? And what the heck is up with John Stewart? Is he a journalist? An activist? A comedian? What’s the difference? This class will prepare you both for a journalistic career, and also will allow you to take your place as a media literate member of society.
The world of journalism as we know it is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Many of the stylistic conventions, technologies, and media business models that were common in the industry only a few years ago have changed completely. No one knows, actually, what the future of journalism—as either a job or an industry—will be, including your professor. All anyone does seem to know is that we are entering a period of flux and experimentation in the journalism industry, and that many people – especially young people—are coming up with new companies, products, and ideas for what the future of journalism will be. We call these people “journalism entrepreneurs,” and you will be assuming the role of a journalism entrepreneur in this class. In short, you are going to be coming up with a new journalism business, based on an understanding of both journalism and business.