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Course Details

Spring 2016-2017
JRN 400 (LA)   na, npdf

The Media in America - What to Read and Believe in the Digital Age

Joe Stephens

This seminar will explore the challenges and opportunities that today's rapidly evolving media landscape presents to freedom of the press, and to the democracy that the media serve. Discussion will focus on where news comes from and how citizens can best assess the credibility of individual news reports. Students will evaluate how successful traditional mass-media outlets and emerging digital media have been at accomplishing the lofty goals embodied in the First Amendment. They will craft strategies for determining their own personal media diet and work to develop new models for serious, sustainable news ventures.

Sample reading list:
Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism
Alex Jones, Losing the News
Dan Gillmor, Mediactive
Web sites of, The New York Times and The Washington Post
Web sites of new-media outlets, ProPublica, The Marshall Project, BuzzFeed, Vice
Social media journalism, Twitter, Facebook, and other sources

Reading/Writing assignments:
Approximately 6 - 8 hours of preparation, divided between reading and writing. Weekly short assignments; one longer project. Bi-weekly individual meetings with the professor.

Papers - 70%
Class/Precept Participation - 30%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Graduate Students.

Other information:
Joe Stephens, investigative projects reporter for The Washington Post and Ferris Professor in Residence, is a three-time winner of the George Polk Award and three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. One of his best-known investigations focused on pharmaceutical companies testing overseas. His piece about the Nature Conservancy is the prototypical investigation of a major charity. An optional class day trip sometimes is offered.

Reserved Seats:
First Year Ugrd Only 3
Sophomores Only 5
Juniors Only 3


Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
41986 S01 01:30:00 pm - 04:20:00 pm W   Henry House   16   Enrolled:16 Limit:16 Closed