Sunday, July 30, 2006

Summer Musings on the Media

Freedom Forum

It’s a hot Sunday afternoon and I’m getting ready to take off for the final two weeks of summer – a distance learning conference in Wisconsin and climbing 14ers in Colorado: stimulation for the mind and soul.

When I get back I’ll be putting the final touches (well, nothing in teaching is ever final) on a mass communications course I’ll be teaching at the Warsaw campus. This is an excellent time to be turning a critical eye towards the media, because just as it was during the Vietnam War, it is under attack again. What’s unusual this time however, is that it is being criticized from all directions. On the right we have Karl Rove claiming the press is “corrosive” and on the left we have Eric Boehlert and others claiming the press is little more than “lapdogs” for the Bush Administration.

So which is it? Can it be both ways?

This is what I hope my students can discover as the course unfolds. During the first week we will work on class brainstorming of what some of the classic complaints against the press are, in more specific detail than just “corrosive” or “lapdogs.” We’ll talk about what we mean when we say “biased” or “conservative” or “liberal.”

Then I intend to send the students out to interview friends and family about their perceptions of the media and where they get their news from. After we get a good feel for peoples’ perceptions of the press, then we’ll do some comparative analysis by following FOX news (on the right) and the New York Times (which has recently been under fire by the administration). We’ll do some more class brainstorming to set up some parameters to examine on a weekly basis and monitor and analyze these parameters over the course of the semester.

As the above project unfolds, we’ll look more in depth at political punditry as exemplified by Rush Limbaugh and Bill O-Reilly, and we’ll also follow media criticism web sites and web blogs, including the work of the non-partisan Pew Research Center, plus we’ll look intensely at political and media blogs themselves as well as at other forms of alternative media, including the Colbert Report and the Daily Show.

The course should be fun, and I have a feeling everyone, myself included, will be surprised by what we learn.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Shannon E. said...

Worth, sounds great. I took that class with Adam D. It truly opened my eyes to the media and understanding how it works. I am quite nervous most of it is ran more by money than political bias even but that is probably a question for another time.


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