GCC 1902

a hand holding a television remote control

What's Truth Got to Do with It? The Challenge of Responsibly Navigating the 21st Century Media Environment

This freshman seminar will consider how the range of what we call the news media – from major newspaper newsrooms to 24-hour cable TV and even upstart channels on YouTube –shape not only our understanding of critical issues in society but, more recently, our ability to agree about the basic facts of those issues. Students will begin this course by understanding how mainstream news organizations operate, how journalists make coverage decisions and how the landscape of news has dramatically changed in this century as a result of social media, the algorithms behind those platforms or the technologies that can convincingly portray fake stories or images as true. Throughout the rest of the semester, the class will follow how various media cover selected issues in the news – major issues such as climate change, immigration or the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Using daily reading of news, journaling, in-class discussions, weekly readings, group assignments and two papers, students will identify the sometimes-conflicting narratives that emerge from the coverage they observe, reflecting on their own ethical responsibility as consumers and disseminators of news and information in a digital world and the importance of transparency, inquiry and truth-seeking in our society.