Diversity, Democracy, and Fake News: Making Our Way in the Time of Trump

Fall 2018
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 46
16 Credits per quarter
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We all know that the media in all its forms provides us with information that shapes our ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and influences our actions. How do we become more critically conscious about our information sources? How do we diversify those sources and become better aware of a wider range of issues and ideas? What is “fake news” and why is “real news” important to the prospect of a functional democracy?

In this full-time program centered on media studies, journalism, and political economy, we will look at the way mainstream, corporate media is targeted as “fake news.” We will evaluate a variety of media platforms from the right to the left to see how they function along a spectrum from propaganda to reasonable, fact-based, accurate reporting. Students will briefly examine the history of propaganda in order to understand the way it functions in the current political climate. We will examine the 2016 election as a case study in leveraging misogyny, racism, and xenophobia to divide voters and will explore the role of traditional and social media in attempting to influence elections. We will draw on current examples in the media as we approach the national mid-term elections in November 2018.

As we do so, we will ask ourselves a number of probing questions: How do dominant media forms promote the status quo and cut out a more diverse range of voices? Are there any limits to free speech? How does hate speech operate to promote racism and intolerance in today’s society? Why does the current presidential administration target mainstream media platforms like CNN and The New York Times as purveyors of “fake news?” Meanwhile, how can we identify the real “fake news” on multiple platforms across both the political right and left?

We will look at alternative forms of citizen journalism and documentary production that give voice to multiple communities (i.e., women, labor, African-American, Latinx, Asian-American, Native American, LGBTQ, etc.) Students can expect to read and prepare response papers for seminars, engage in researching a variety of media sources, and write regular reports analyzing media sources and their political perspectives. In addition, students will learn basic media skills (photo, audio, and/or video) to make their own “real” news and forms of expression.


Fall 2018 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 10235
So (16): 10236

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

media, journalism, politics, communications

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

COM 323 - Workshop