Politics of Journalism: CMC Government 115, Fall 2019  

Monday and Wednesday 11 AM - 12:15 PM  Classroom:  Bauer 1

J.J. Pitney -- Office: 232 Kravis, Telephone: 909/607-4224

Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 1-2 PM; Friday 11 AM - noon.

If these times are inconvenient, please make an appointment

 Email: jpitney@cmc.edu  

Web: http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/

Twitter: @jpitney



The purpose of this course is to explain the relationship between newsmakers and the mass media.  It asks how political figures try to influence the traditional media and broadcast their messages via social media. It also asks how the media influence the behavior of officials and activists, as well as ordinary voters.  It is not a "how-to" course on the practice of journalism.  Instead, it poses these questions:



Class sessions will include lecture and discussion.  Finish assigned readings before the class because our discussions will involve those readings.  Do not assume that your instructor agrees with everything in the assigned readings, or that you must do so.  Feel free to agree or disagree with any of the material, provided that you can back up what you say.


We shall discuss breaking stories, so you should read news sources every day.   




Our class blog is at http://gov115.blogspot.com .  I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there.  We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience.   You will all receive invitations to post to the blog.  (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.)  I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

Remember that the blog is on the open Internet. Post nothing that would look bad to a potential employer. If you want more confidentiality, post to the forum on the class Sakai page.



Required Books 

Schedule (subject to change, with advance notice).

Sept 4:  Introduction


"[T]o the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity, over error and oppression." -- James Madison   

Sept 9, 11:  Media History I

"Speed up the film, Montag, quick ... Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! ... Whirl man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!" -- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451  Sept 16, 18: Media History II

"From 2008 to 2018, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 25%."  -- Pew Research Center
Sept 23, 25: Ownership and Regulation of the Media

"It's simple television economics, Kyle. All it takes to kill a show forever is get one episode pulled. If we convince the network to pull this episode for the sake of Muslims, then the Catholics can demand a show they don't like get pulled. And then people with disabilities can demand another show get pulled. And so on and so on, until Family Guy is no more! It's exactly what happened to Laverne & Shirley." -- Eric Cartman

Sept 30, Oct 2: News Routines in a Changing Media Landscape 

"What is a trend going on in the U.S. or abroad that doesn’t get enough attention?  `The surface blurring of lines between reporting and opposition research. All information is now democratized so everyone can act like a researcher and reporter, and everyone with a smartphone can be a video tracker. Thankfully the advancement of technology has made us realize our competitive advantage is going back to basics. Only talented oppo researchers can go into the county courthouse and pull the records they need to build a narrative. Only a reporter can talk to a source and bring sometimes decades-old anecdotes to the surface.” -- Joe Pounder

Oct 7, 9:  Audiences and Media Impact  


"Imagine a world without free knowledge." -- Wikipedia, January 18, 2012

Oct 14, 16: Campaigns and Elections I

"Easy to feel proud when you're working for a candidate so committed to standing up for what's right!" -- Katie Rodihan `14, press secretary to Jay Inslee

OCT 23:  Campaigns and Elections II

"I've spent most of my career avoiding cable TV. Like, how does that actually get anything done? You know. So, it's, I think, in part, why you don't see the governors up as high as some of these. It's just that a lot of the narrative now is driven by name recognition. And it's driven by cable news."  -- Steve Bullock `88 Oct 28, 30: Bias, Incivility, and "Fake News" I


"The press is the enemy." -- Richard M. Nixon

Nov 4, 6:  Bias, Incivility, and "Fake News" II

"Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere."  -- George Orwell


Nov 11, 13:  Struggle for Control:  Presidency, Congress, Courts

"The St. Louis County And Municipal Police Academy, which encompasses Ferguson, is offering a `Continuing Education' course in October entitled `OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING — YOU CAN WIN WITH THE MEDIA.' The class is billed as `fast-paced class is jam-packed with the essential strategies and tactics, skills and techniques' and includes a `detailed case study of Ferguson.'"-- Judd Legum, PO `00
Nov 18, 20:  Struggle for Control:  Interest Groups, State and Local Government

“No one is paying attention to environmental rules,” says Dermot Cole, a blogger and former longtime columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “At one time, the Anchorage Daily News would have been on top of this story, but its staff might be one-fifth what it was. The watchdog function has not been replaced by anything.” -- Alan Greenblatt

Nov 25:  News and the Entertainment Media

When I turned on my computer this morning, I had over two million unique visitors all looking for the truth." -- Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) in Contagion.


 Dec 2, 4: International Affairs, International Perspectives

“Don't look at the camera! Just go by -- like you're fighting!” -- Francis Ford Coppola in Apocalypse Now  

“The troops landing in Somalia yesterday jumped from their rubber boats and headed into the dunes -- and into the glare of television lights.   More than 75 reporters and camera crews were waiting on the beach with microphones on and videotape rolling.” New York Times, 12/9/92.  

Dec 9, 11: Summing Up


Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em all around    -- Don Henley, “Dirty Laundry”