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Media History (302-0-23)


Watergate's Legacy: The Press and The Presidency


Jonathan Herbert Marshall

Meeting Info

Fisk Hall 206: Tues, Thurs 12:30PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

This course allows students to understand the current turmoil in political reporting - White House attacks on reporters, the spread of misinformation through social media, the pressures of the 24/7 news cycle, increasingly partisan media perspectives, and more - in the context of the significant changes in journalism that began with the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon's resignation. The course will guide students through doing original research using primary sources such as media archives, material in presidential libraries, and the speeches, letters, and oral history collections of leading politicians and journalists. Students will dive deeply into journalism history and make connections between the past and present.

Potential themes to be explored include:
Influence of media ownership on how news is framed
Power of the White House to pressure and threaten journalists
Impact of changing technology on the dissemination of information
The ethics and practicality of using anonymous sources
Responses of journalists to increasing political polarization and declining power of political parties
Weakening of the watchdog role of a free press in democracies
Growing sophistication of presidential marketing strategies to set media agenda
Shifting norms of objectivity in journalism
Changing public opinion towards presidents and the media
Roles played by individual journalists, political leaders and media outlets

Registration Requirements

Sophomore standing
Prereqs: JOUR 201-1, JOUR 201-2

Class Materials (Required)

The only required book for students to purchase is All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, which is available in paperback for about $10; used copies are fine. Other readings, videos and podcasts will be provided by the instructor.

Class Attributes

Attendance at 1st class mandatory
Prerequisites apply, see description
No Freshmen
SDG Peace & Justice

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for Medill Sophomores & Juniors