Making News: Pluralistic Journalism in New and Old Media (BA)

The ongoing transformation of the media landscape is accompanied by both big hopes and big fears for democratic debates. Online enthusiasts argue that networked online and social media may enable truly inclusive democratic debates, where professional news media have been criticized for privileging few, selected elite viewpoints. Inversely, critics have warned of echo-chambers, resulting in a fragmentation and polarization of debates, and a loss of quality in public discourse. In this class, we will address the mechanisms and strategies that are responsible for different amounts of viewpoint diversity found in different media, as well as their capacity to sustain inclusive, pluralist exchanges. Understanding the production, filtering, and dissemination of diverse viewpoints in news and social media, we identify those factors responsible for broad or narrow, inclusive or fragmented debates, and discuss possible implications and policies for democratic media and journalism in an online age. Tracing mediated debates on selected current issues, we investigate how diverse current media discourse are: What kinds of ideas dominate the debate? What is omitted? How are different viewpoints reconciled? And how could additional, complementary viewpoints be brought into the debate? Developing avenues for improving media performance, this class speaks to current issues related to the transforming media environment.

Course Topics

  • Getting to terms: Diversity in the news
  • Putting news into perspective: Authenticity, objectivity, balance, and diversity
  • News as narrative: Genres, frames, and repertoires
  • Measuring diversity: Introduction to Frame and Discourse Analysis
  • Pathologies: Hegemony, polarization, and propaganda
  • News diversity 1.0: Journalistic framing strategies
  • News diversity 2.0: User generated frames
  • News diversity dynamics: Consensus and contestation in old and new media
  • Explaining diversity (and the lack thereof): Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Pathologies: Fake news, echo chambers, and the death of facts
  • Putting news into perspective: Epistemic and political implications
  • Defending diversity: The contribution of professional journalism
  • Defending diversity: The contribution of social media audiences