The Media and Politics in the United States

I - June 28–July 16, 2021
Modality, Day & Time:
Monday–Friday, 11:10 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 3:10–5:00 p.m.

Tim Novak

“[I gained] an understanding of politics and how to be informed about the real world.” – Katerina S. | Neponsit, New York

Course Description

This course explores a broad range of questions concerning the relationship between the media and politics, with a focus on historical and contemporary issues presented in the American context: Do the news media educate or manipulate the citizenry? What is the role of the press in a democracy and how does the First Amendment protect the press in the United States? What has the impact been of the new information technologies on the traditional media and on the political role of citizens? Against the backdrop of these questions, we critically assess the political significance of social media and the increasing “weaponization” of information. In particular, we examine the extent to which these new developments limit the ability of citizens to participate meaningfully in society and politics, while at the same time challenging longstanding assumptions about the role of journalism and political communication in America’s system of democratic government.

Students engage with course material through a combination of readings, lectures, daily discussions, films, and guest speakers from the worlds of journalism and politics. Participants also work in small teams to create a hypothetical media proposal for selected candidates running in the 2020 New York City Mayoral Race. This will involve doing research on target constituencies, developing a persuasive message, and designing an effective media plan that matches specific messages to appropriate audiences and platforms.

The central goal of this course is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the factors that characterize effective communication strategies, and to equip them with the tools necessary to be more intelligent, critical consumers of all forms of political communication.


Tim Novak

Tim Novak holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in media sociology from the New School for Social Research as well as a B.A. in humanities from the University of California, San Diego. For over twenty-five years he has been teaching college-level courses in sociology, media, and communications. His research focuses on the relationships between media, technology, social movements, persuasion, and identity formation.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.