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JOUR 300: Journalism and Society

Assignment

The final paper will be 8-10 pages in length. Choose one of the following four questions:
1. “…it seems undeniable that the prevailing tendency in the media is towards the
reproduction, amidst all their contradictions, of the definitions of the powerful, of the dominant
ideology” (Hall et al, 2013, Policing the Crisis, p. 68). Critically evaluate this statement. In your
answer (1) define the concepts of ideology and power, (2) outline the relationship between
dominant ideology and the media, and (3) specifically discuss the role of the news media within
this analysis. Use at least one example from the contemporary news media to support your
answer.
2. “Since American journalism’s pivot many decades ago from an openly partisan press to a
model of professed objectivity, the mainstream has allowed what it considers objective truth to
be decided almost exclusively by white reporters and their mostly white bosses. And those
selective truths have been calibrated to avoid offending the sensibilities of white readers. On
opinion pages, the contours of acceptable public debate have largely been determined through
the gaze of white editors”. This quote from Wesley Lowery highlights what some have called
the “failures of neutral objective journalism”. Provide a critical analysis of this debate,
especially as it has unfolded in the context of the news coverage of the murder of George Floyd
and the subsequent protests across many American cities in 2020. In your answer clarify how
“objectivity” is defined and understood more generally and within journalism in particular. To
what extent is journalistic objectivity racialized?
3. In 1947 the Hutchins Commission produced a report entitled “A Free and Responsible Press:
A General Report on Mass Communication: Newspapers, Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines,
and Books”. Provide (1) a historical overview of why such a report was deemed necessary, (2)
the key findings of the report, and (3) the reaction and impact that the report had at the time.
Reflecting on the contemporary state of “freedom of the press”, outline three major issues a
similar commission today would focus on and explain why these three issues are important.
4. The state of journalism in America has variously been described as dying, if not already dead,
and, conversely, in a state of revival and experiencing a resurgence. Drawing upon the ideas of
key media commentators, survey the current standing of journalism in America. Pay particular
attention to the power of market forces (capitalism), the fragmented nature of media markets,
and the impact of new technologies on journalism. In your answer think about journalism
broadly, as an industry as well as the practice, distribution and consumption of journalism.

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