Special Topics in Data Gathering and Analysis:
History as Context for Emerging Media in Journalism
University of Maryland
Course Description and Goals:
This course will explore the interplay of continuity and change at the intersection of journalism, technology and culture. Students will examine developments billed as innovative or even revolutionary in the current technology-laden news ecology – such as blogging, social networking, instantaneous mobile reporting, citizen journalism, hyperlocal news, viral stories, smart phones, computational journalism, interactivity and the blurring of lines between hard news, informed opinion, advocacy and shouting. We will do this with an eye to thinking critically about the degree to which what we see around us in the emerging media, practices and structures of journalism is new, and the degree to which what we see may be only the latest expression of much older journalistic endeavors and fundamental human practices for the exchange of information deemed newsworthy.
While questions about the future cannot be answered with any certainty, an exploration of the past allows us to see what happened when new technologies, information systems, and practices appeared as possible tools for use by journalists, news organizations and the communities they served. Students will emerge from the course better equipped both to think critically about the current news media environment and to participate in the development of innovative approaches to news and information in the future.
The course will include presentations by the instructor, discussions based on class readings, in-class exercises in small groups, and student presentations. During in-class exercises, students will generate material for a class blog and for potential inclusion in one of several Web pages devoted to the subject of this course.
The course will include a field trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., during which students will hear from Newseum officials about plans for a new-media gallery, followed by writing a “Newseum memo” with individual responses and recommendations. Students will also take a field trip on campus to explore journalism-related collections at the Library of American Broadcasting.
Each student will engage in a “Decades” research project, focusing on a particular historical decade with an eye to emerging media in journalism during that time period. This research will use primary source materials where available – such as searchable databases of 19th-century newspapers and magazines – as well as other high-quality source materials, including scholarly research articles, books and reliable online sites. The object of this research is a short paper and a report to the class.
Students will also undertake an “Essay” project. The goal of this project is to produce an essay that uses history in some way to reflect on a current issue related to emerging media in journalism. This may be, for example, a comparison of the present to a past practice in the generation or circulation of news. This essay may use material acquired and writing done for the student’s earlier assignments in this course – or it may set off in a fresh direction.
This page: http://jclass.umd.edu/cars/479W/default.htm