Introduction to the Study of Journalism

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  • Session A: July 10 - July 22, 2017
  • Session B: July 24 - August 5, 2017


  • 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.


  • Communications


  • Samantha Oliver

Over the past year, much has been written about the media and its impact on the 2016 presidential election, as well as on society more broadly. With the advent of social media and fake news, the ability to understand how news is produced and why is more important than ever. The aim of this course is to make students into critical news consumers, and to provide them with the tools to better understand how journalism works and how it effects society. Along the way, we will explore a wide range of material produced by and about journalists, including academic essays, news articles and broadcasts, photographs, and more.                   

Overarching questions for this course include: Where does news come from? How do journalists, editors, and other news personnel decide what ends up on today’s front page? How do journalists gain and keep public trust? How do journalists use words and images to to tell their stories? How do politics, economics, and culture affect journalists and journalistic practices? What is fake news and why can’t the mainstream media stop talking about it? 

We will begin the course by discussing what journalism is, before moving on to different models of journalistic practice that have been used throughout history. We then turn to how news is produced by zooming in on newsroom values and routines to discuss what kinds of stories end up in the news and why. Next, we will take a behind the scenes look at how the words and images that make up news articles and broadcasts are selected and framed. Finally, we turn to issues of journalistic authority by examining how journalism and politics are related, how journalists gain and keep the trust of the public, and what happens when that trust appears to break down.

Throughout this module, students will:

  • Use models of journalistic practice to categorize and understand different kinds of news stories across print, broadcast, and online media
  • Critically analyze the words and images of journalism for both their denotative and connotative meanings
  • Position journalism in relation to other institutions, such as politics, economics, history, and culture
  • Understand how news is produced and discuss the effects of those production practices on society
  • Gain critical media literacy skills through facilitated engagement with past and present news stories.


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