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Social Justice Seminar (428-0-20)


Fake News: Racialized Propaganda, Media Responsibi


Christopher D'Angelo Benson

Meeting Info

Meets in Non-General PurposeRm: Tues 1:00PM - 3:50PM

Overview of class

Ideally, in a democratic society, we have a government of, by and for the people. And the consent of the governed regarding public policy and policymakers is informed by a free and responsible press. But what happens when this process is distorted by a disinformation campaign set in motion by government elites who attempt to engineer public consent? What is the role of the news media in reporting the news, assessing it, critiquing it, contextualizing it in contributing to enlightened public decision making? How might the conventions of journalism—the traditional rules and practices that guide our work—be used against the objectives of journalism? Through assigned readings and robust discussion, this seminar will explore the dynamics of public opinion and attempts to manipulate it. Against the backdrop of media coverage of current events, we will come to understand the framework for propaganda, its elements, how it works and how it has been used in the construction and reinforcement of social difference. Ultimately, we will see how this process has been weaponized—pitting identifiable groups against each other—in the process of assuming and maintaining political power. In this process, we will see how the term "fake news" has been used in an effort to undermine media credibility and cause public confusion about what to believe. Ironically, and unsurprisingly, we will see that the very people charging "fake news" are the ones generating it. In the end, we must consider our role as journalists in this process. How have we been complicit? What is our responsibility to ensure a deeper public appreciation of the value of social difference? What is the public responsibility in achieving a degree of literacy, particularly with increasing reliance on social media? These are vital questions as we find ourselves on the cusp of a new demographic reality, a new democratic reality, a truly plural society.

Class Materials (Required)


Class Attributes

Attendance at 1st class mandatory