Journalists no longer have the monopoly on journalistic acts. The digital revolution is having a profound impact on the way news stories are researched, reported, edited and distributed. As people turn to social media as a place to share ideas and connect to others, there has been great excitement but also skepticism about the role of these platforms in democratizing information and allowing for more participatory news making. From second screening to trending topics to fake news, the social media universe has deeply permeated our personal and political lives in 2016.
I want you to be at the center of these conversations as you progress in your academic and professional careers.
This course is at the intersection between journalism, social media and politics. It aims to provide you with a firm theoretical foundation in the current journalism scholarship, while imparting how these theories relate to online networking.
Survey theory and research on journalism as a profession
Recognize the ways communicators are able to inform and engage the public via social media
Identify the challenges brought by each unique social media platform
Reflect on current conversations around issues of verification, misinformation, privacy and inequality
Learn how to control and strategically plan your own identity on social media
Carlson, M., & Lewis, S. C. (Eds.). (2015). Boundaries of journalism: Professionalism, practices and participation. New York, NY: Routledge. (Available as e-book at MSU library)
Papacharissi, Z. (2015). Affective publics: Sentiment, technology, and politics. Oxford University Press.
Wednesdays from 10:00 - noon
Thursdays from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Or by appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org (CAS 340)
Online ethnography (30%)
Final paper (40%)
Stories are graded in a 100% scale:
0 (below 60%)
This is a graduate-level course and your work must be your own. It must be original or properly attributed. Work that is fabricate or plagiarized will receive a zero and will result in an Academic Dishonesty Report about this with the Dean’s Office. I may check assignments by using TurnItIn software.
You can review the School of Journalism’s Code of Ethics here.
This syllabus is subject to change. Last updated: 01/03/2017.
I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another. The most important acts constituting self-consciousness are determined by a relationship toward another consciousness.
— Mikhail Bakhtin, Theory of Socialization
This is a social media course and online and in-person participation are as important as your papers. The class is based on active and reflective discussions and I am committed to what you bring to this course. I expect you to come on time and participate fully.
Each class will be divided into three segments:
First, I will shortly introduce the topics and key arguments of our readings. For this segment, I ask you not to disrupt class with cell phones, social media browsing (the irony!) or side conversations.
Each week, one student will lead the online discussions about our readings on Facebook. By Wednesday, you will share your contributions with others online and we will use this discussion to guide the segment of our meeting time.
After a short break, we will use the final segment of the class to conduct a lab exercise based on the readings. The lab exercises will be part of your participation grade.
I value the diversity that each person brings to MSU. If your religious holidays require new arrangements for classes or homework, please tell me in advance. If you have a Verified Individual Services Accommodation form, you are welcome to share that with me at least two weeks before the date of the test or project that concerns you. If there is anything I can do to teach better, please tell me.
In this assignment, adapted from Dr. Serena Carpenter's class, you will choose an online community to observe and participate for at least four weeks. It can be an online game, a Reddit forum, a Facebook group, or transmedia franchises (e.g. Star Wars, Game of Thrones), just to cite a few.
You will pitch your community on the second week of classes and write weekly reports during the first month of the semester. You can either participate meaningfully (participant observation) or be an objective observer (ethnography). You will write down, record and illustrate your key findings.
When you begin your search, focus on these questions
- Weekly observations (10%): Notes should be posted on Google Document
- Final report + presentation (20%): 4 pages
Your final project brings together what you have learned from readings and discussions during this course.
It can take one of these three forms:
a) Future of journalism: predictions for 2018
This paper should be an essay on your predictions for the future of journalism. This is not merely an opinion piece, but it should be grounded in the readings from this course and other sources. It should focus on what do you think will be the next trends in the profession and why.
b) Literature review
The second option is a comprehensive overview of the literature on a topic related to the course. This review should not be a simple annotation of references, but instead a focused effort to be used in a research project later. It should flow into developed research questions or set of hypotheses.
c) Pilot study
The third option is to conduct a pilot study on a phenomenon of your choice. This could be a preliminary content analysis, qualitative textual analysis, focus groups, in-depth interviews, etc. It should have a small introduction, short literature review, research question and preliminary findings. This would serve as the basis of a research project you wish to pursue in the future.
The paper should be 8-12 double-spaced pages due April 20. I will give you feedback on the paper and the opportunity to do a rewrite (under some specific conditions) due the day of the final. The paper should have a 100-word abstract and consistently use APA style for citations. Papers not submitted on time will result in a 0.
Midterm and projects should be posted on Google Drive.
Online ethnography pitch
Introduction, chapter 1 and 2
Self-presentation on social media
Detective work: Find a story that looks “suspicious” on your social media feed and do some detective work. Is it “fake news”?
a) Why?, b) What were the motivations behind it?, and c) Why do you think your friend shared it?
Facebook Mounts Effort to Limit Tide of Fake News - The New York Times
Develop a fake news story
Video: Patrick Howe and Brady Teufel, California Polytechnic State University - Native Advertising And Digital Natives: The Effects of Age and Advertisement Format on News Website Credibility Judgments (starts at 1:56)
Plan your personal strategy
Boston bombing exercise
Online ethnography presentations
The art and science of audience development: How news organizations navigate a world where they don't control the distribution channels - Cynthia Collins, editor, social media, The New York Times (Video)
Online ethnography presentations
Hamby, P. (2013) Did Twitter kill the boys on the bus? (p. 25 (The golden era]- 37 [Nobody cares]).
Self-reflection and how to make online discussions productive
Final project pitches
Lab: Final project individual help
Lab: final project individual help
Gladwell, M. (2010, October 4). Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. The New Yorker; Graham-Felson. (2010, October).
Beyond the hashtag (Deen Freelon, Charlton D. McIlwain, and Meredith D. Clark) Pages 1-14 and 74-84.
Final paper presentations
Nieman Lab Predictions 2017 (just browse the blurbs)
Final paper due
Final paper presentations