POL 301D COURSE OUTLINE

POLITICS AND NEWS

Students survey their information environment and scrutinize what they find for evidences of objectivity and traces of censorship.  They investigate how news media might set the public agenda and reflect or affect the opinions of their respective customers.  Daily and weekly sources—print and electronic—available in the local area are compared with sources available elsewhere in this and other countries with reference to selection of what is reported, arrangement of information, and editorial or ideological slant.

Possible Textbooks

Alleyne, Mark D., News Revolution:  Political and Economic Decisions about Global Information (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997).

Nimmo, Dan, and James E. Combs, Mediated Political Realities (New York: Longman, 1993).

Parenti, Michael, Inventing Reality:  The Politics of News Media (2nd ed.; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993).

 

What do you want them to know?

What discernible filtering and perceptual screening is done by political scientists, politicians, propagandists, journalists, citizens.  What distinctions between open (pluralistic, polyarchal, adaptable) and closed (monolithic, authoritarian, rigid) systems, affect flow of information.  What institutional arrangements , principles of legality, prevailing customs, and tendencies toward divergence in public affect circulation of information.

 

What do you want them to do?

Become adept at using text and library reference materials.  Become facile with print (not just on-line) sources and to be critical of reliability.  Use newspapers (and news weeklies, monthlies) of record—e.g., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, World Press Review.  Cite accurately in standard form.  Identify niche markets and their media.

Compare Foreign Affairs, Daedalus, P.S., and such quality periodicals with journals published elsewhere.

Continue using newspapers and periodicals of record, reference sources of library, and quality academic journals.

Read with understanding and utilize scholarly works and articles in academic journals by premier political scientists on leadership.  American Political Science Review is required.  Read scholarly journals—such as Media Studies Journal, published by the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University, Columbia Journalism Review—for the duration of the course.  Develop a file of press-related documents published by governments, United Nations, or nongovernmental organizations that pertain to news and censorship.

Test the hypothesis that civil society outperforms its rivals in assuring conditions of liberty—press restrains state, elected representatives restrain state, law restrains press, law restrains elected representatives, press and media compete and offer alternatives, within and reinforcing market economy and open society.  Cf. Ernest Gellner, Conditions of Liberty:  Civil Society and Its Rivals (New York: Penguin, 1994); Michael Ignatieff, “On Civil Society,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 1995), p. 129 et passim.

 

What habits of mind are they to form?

Clearly distinguish factual, editorial, and speculative modes of reporting.

Recognize distinctive viewpoints—or biases—of diverse publishers, news agencies, and journalists are to be recognized when encountered.  Identify zones of conflict, effects of news reporting on public policy, risks to journalists.

 

How will you know?

Who, what, where, when, how, why will be specific.  Identifying information will be sufficient to assure correct delivery and attribution.

Sources will be fully and traceably cited, whether footnotes or bibliography.

 

Optimization of searches.  Verbalization in speech and in writing.  Organization of information by kind and by degree.  Ideas for verifying findings.

Cumulative correction and continuity of prospectus à rough draft à oral presentation à finished piece(s).

 

Selected Sources

Alleyne, Mark D., International Power and International Communication (London: Macmillan, 1995).

Bell, Daniel, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society:  A Venture in Social Forecasting (rev. ed.; New York: Basic Books, 1976).

Clor, Harry M. (ed.), The Mass Media and Modern Democracy (Gambier, OH: Rand McNally, 1974).

Combs James E., and Dan Nimmo, The New Propaganda:  The Dictatorship of Palaver in Contemporary Politics (New York: Longman, 1993).

Dawson, Richard E., Public Opinion and Contemporary Disarray (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).

Fagan, Richard R., Politics and Communication:  An Analytical Study (Boston: Little, Brown, 1966).

Galtung, Johan, and Richard C. Vincent, Global Glasnost:  Toward a New World Information and Communication Order? (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1992).

Holn, Hans-Henrik, and Georg Sorensen, Whose World Order?  Uneven Globalization and the End of the Cold War (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995).

Jansen, Sue Curry, Censorship:  The Knot That Binds Power and Knowledge (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991).

Kunczik, Michael, Images of Nations and International Public Relations (Bonn: Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, 1990).

O’Neill, Michael J., The Roar of the Crowd:  How Television and People Power Are Changing the World (New York: Times Books, 1993).

Parenti, Michael, Make-Believe Media:  The Politics of Entertainment (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992).

Read, Donald, The Power of News:  The History of Reuters 1849-1989 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991).

Righter, Rosemary, Whose News?  Politics, the Press and the Third World (London: Burnett Books, 1978).

Rivers, William L., The Opinion Makers:  The Washington Press Corps (Boston: Beacon, 1967).

Rosenbaum, Mort, Coups and Earthquakes ((New York: Harper & Row, 1979).

Smith, Anthony, The Geopolitics of Information (London: Faber and Faber, 1980).

UNESCO passim

Wriston, Walter B., The Twilight of Sovereignty:  How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1992).

Zimbardo, Philip G., Ebbe B. Ebbesen, and Christina Maslach, Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior…method, theory and applications of social control and personal power (2nd ed.; Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977).