MS 201

Civic Media

This course focuses on the role(s) of civic media in democratic societies. In order to engage in democracy citizens must know how to seek out useful information, assess and evaluate that information, and mobilize it to make informed decisions. Typically this involves engagement with some form of civic media. In this course we engage with the concept of civic media -- including both traditional news as well as more recent forms of public information and advocacy such as blogs and social media platform feeds – and we investigate how well contemporary civic media are serving our democratic needs. We will ask: Why do citizens need civic media? Where can people find reliable information and analysis? What makes information reliable? What expectations have citizens traditionally had of civic media like professional journalism? Are these expectations still reasonable today? How is contemporary professional journalism made? What about less traditional forms of journalism such as political bloggers or indy media, what values or practices do they follow? How do we assess the many sources of information available to us? What are some criteria we can use to assess the validity of civic media? Has the multiplication of information sources encouraged more democratic participation? Or has it created “silos” of citizens following their own information paths?

Prerequisite: MS 100 with a minimum grade of C