“I loved the course material . . . [It] was interesting and difficult and prompted discussion in and out of the class.”” — Harriet Gray, 2016
This course explores a broad range of questions concerning the relationship between the media and politics, with a focus on historical and contemporary issues presented in the American context: 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 role of the press in a democracy and how does the First Amendment protect the press in America? 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?
We focus on a number of national and global events, from the past and the present, in which the relation between the media and politics have come into stark relief or have been redefined. Topics from the American experience include investigative journalism during Watergate, manipulation of the news in presidential campaigns, coverage of the Iraq War, and Supreme Court decisions on clear and present danger. Students investigate global issues based on their individual interests and in consultation with the instructor.
Students engage with the material through a combination of lectures, daily discussions, in-class debates, guest speakers from the world of journalism and politics, and a field trip to a live news broadcast. Assigned readings range from classic philosophic texts to First Amendment cases.
Tim Novak holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology from the New School for Social Research as well as a B.A. in humanities from the University of California, San Diego. For over twenty years he has been teaching courses in sociology, media, and communications. Most recently, he has taught as an adjunct professor of sociology and communications at Hofstra University and at Adelphi University. His research focuses on the relationship between media, persuasion, and identity formation