“[I gained] an understanding of politics and how to be informed about the real world.” — Katerina Shvartsshteyn
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: 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 on the traditional media and on the political role of citizens? Against the backdrop of these questions, we critically assess the rise of cyber propaganda, the use and abuse of social media, and the fake news phenomenon. In particular, we examine the extent to which these new developments limit the ability of citizens to participate meaningfully in society and politics, while at the same time challenging longstanding assumptions about the role of journalism and political communication in America’s democratic system.
Students engage with course material through a combination of readings, lectures, daily discussions, films, field trips, and guest speakers from the world of journalism and politics. Participants also work in small teams to create a proposed media strategy for selected candidates running in the 2018 Midterm Election. This will involve doing research on target constituencies, developing a persuasive message, and designing an effective media plan that matches specific messages to appropriate audiences and platforms.
The central goal of this course is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the factors that characterize effective communication strategies, and to equip them with the tools necessary to be more intelligent, critical consumers of all forms of political communication.
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