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The History of Television: News Coverage through the Looking Glass

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

We will cover the evolution of television news coverage from the 1950's to the present day, from 15-minute newscasts sponsored heavily by advertisers to today's 24-hour cable channels, owned by major corporations. By week’s end, we should be able to determine whether we are better off today, with more information, and more channels, than earlier generations of news consumers, or whether we have become self-limiting, tracking our own pre-existing issues, ideas, and ideologies on media that reflects our views.

News content, news coverage, news delivery, and news consumption have changed significantly from the early days of visual media. Today's youthful digital engagers are expected to be tomorrow's significant news consumers. Will that occur, as it has for each preceding generation?

Television news remains the most significant source for the delivery of news to the American public. Local television regularly tops surveys as the preferred provider of news. The challenge television has in presenting significant content to a broad audience is great. At times, the content is memorable (the Lunar landing) or carries great meaning (Barack Obama's 2008 Convention speech). The evolution and enhanced role of television news in our world will help us to determine how we view history, and how history has been defined, not solely by news content, but by the television news media.

Over the course of this fast-paced week, students will be able to critically examine how news delivery via visual media fits within the context of the decade in which that news was delivered. They will have a greater sense of late 20th century history, and an understanding for how news stories go viral.

Students will need to have a general sense of late 20th century history, or at least an interest in news, television, or late 20th century history.