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The Media and The Truth

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

We are going to focus on how the media covers three hot button issues. Our topics include the Donald Trump campaign and Presidency, the Black Lives Matter movement, and what happens when athletes speak up on topics outside the lines of sports. Together we will get closer to the media and determine whether there is a universal truth to reporting.

Bandwidth has been stretched this past year over news and reporting on President Trump’s campaign. What did he say? Does he even know what he said yesterday? How can he suggest he didn’t say something when it has been blasted out on Twitter and on television. We will screen newscasts, read articles, review primary source materials, and work towards the chicken/egg question on whether the media created Donald Trump, or whether Donald Trump commandeered the media?

Black Lives Matter is the pre-eminent social movement of our day. While there has long been a history of civil rights activism within the African-American community, BLM has advanced as a leaderless entity, powered by frustration with the status quo, notable examples of police brutality and the wanton targeting of black men and women, all the while capturing media attention with the size and impact of protests across the country. We will ask the question: is BLM a modern activist entity, advancing via technology, energy, and drive, or a hate group, targeting police and inciting violence in cities and communities across the nation. Depending on which truth to which you adhere, you are on one side of the culture war that has erupted between blue and black.

Colin Kaepernick is a professional football player with the San Francisco 49ers. Last summer, during a pre-season NFL game, he sat while his teammates stood for the national anthem. His singular action, intended to draw attention to the deaths of young black males at the hands of police over the past few months, drew Kaepernick attention beyond his imagination. Is the quarterback following in the footsteps of other athletes who used their prominence to fight for justice and civil rights, like Muhammed Ali and Olympic sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos, or is he an example of privilege and excess, insulting soldiers, police, and teammates through his actions and his efforts. The media has said all of these things over the past year. We will examine how Kaepernick and the questions he has raised have been covered by the media in both the world of news and the world of sports.

Examples of coverage, research, and reporting outside of these three topic areas will be examined as part of this class. By the end of this course, students should be able to determine when a story is covered and presented without bias, and the circumstances under which bias is inserted in reporting, and may even be acceptable. The ability to think critically will be central to this course and the material that will be reviewed.

Students should bring an interest in current events, a curiosity about the role of media in society, and a healthy skepticism. We will examine media framing, discuss the constructs and confines of traditional media, and explore how social media expedites these discussions. Rising Juniors and Seniors are encouraged to apply.

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