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IR245: International Journalism and Society – The Role of the Media in the Modern World.


Session: One
Prerequisites: basic knowledge of journalism and international politics. This course is suitable for professionals and activists working in journalism or media-related fields as well as students. Participants should have studied at least one introductory course in either political science, international relations, sociology, economics or media and communications.

Charlie Beckett (Director of POLIS at LSE)
Dr Shani Orgad (Lecturer, Media and Communications, LSE)
Dr Bart Cammaerts (Lecturer, Media and Communications, LSE)

We live in a world where information is an increasingly critical resource. The news media playa crucial role in the production and dissemination of that information and so it is vital to understand their role in the modern world. To understand that it is necessary to analyse how the news media are undergoing profound change. Participants in this course will emerge with a better understanding of the shifts taking place in the practices, forms and processes within the news media and their consequences for the role of journalism in contemporary society.

The first part of the course will introduce students to the current news media landscape and the contexts within which journalism operates. The discussion will start by reviewing key concepts in the practice of journalism and the production of news media such as impartiality, trust and sources. It will highlight the changes journalism is undergoing, particularly in the context of digital and online media and their implications for the concepts underpinning journalism practice. We will examine three key processes which frame the character of news media and the practice of journalism in fundamental ways: the expansion and popularisation of new media technologies, the ‘consumerisation’ and corporatization of culture, and increasing globalisation.

The second part of the course will examine the role of journalism in the international context and the moral challenges it faces. The discussion will focus on the role of journalism in reporting on suffering, development and conflict. It will critically examine the opportunities and challenges of representing ‘distant others’ who are miles away from Western viewers, looking at the representation of humanitarian emergencies such as the Ethiopian famine and the 2005 South Asia earthquake. This part will also discuss reporting of war and the challenges that the changing realities of contemporary conflicts and the news media present for journalism. .

The third part will examine the broader moral consequences of journalism and news media in today’s’ world, linking the discussions in the two previous parts. The relationship between news media and morality will be explored by focusing on three case studies: the Danish Cartoon controversy; political blogging; and the celebritisation of news media discourse seen in cases such as Madeleine McCann, David Beckham, contemporary party politics and Humanitarian emergencies.

The questions at the heart of this concluding part of the course are: Can the news media make a real difference in today’s world? What kind of difference and how? The discussion will enable students to integrate what has been studied in the first two parts and apply it to a critical exploration of journalism's role in the contemporary world.

Texts:
R. Silverstone, Media and Morality, Polity (2006)
C. Beckett, SuperMedia, Blackwell, (2008)

Lectures: 36 hours Classes: 12 hours
Assessment: One written examination