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Objectivity and the Politics of the Journalism Revolution

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1299
Section 001
Instructor Paul Thaler
Days W
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



At the birth of this nation, it was assumed by journalists and their readers that journalists were partisans, telling stories from particular points of view. But the growth of the modern newspaper combined with the ideals of science transformed the image, self-image, and practice of journalism, which now claims to worship at the altar of objectivity, to present information or “news” without bias. This ethic has carried over to the contemporary media, despite challenges from critics. Rather than multiple media outlets presenting different optics or lenses through which to see events and their contexts, media outlets claim to speak impartially. In this course we examine this ideal or promise: is it possible? desirable? To pursue this inquiry we consider challenges to objectivity by figures such as Truman Capote, who linked a “new journalism” to a personal point of view, Robert McChesney, whose corporate media perspective provides a powerful macro analysis of modern journalism, and Jay Rosen, who articulates the postmodern shifts brought on by the Internet that have redefined and realigned the relationship between the journalist and audience. Readings include Walter Lippmann, John Dewey, Tom Wolfe, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, and Ben Bagdikian.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)