WEEK 1 (Apr 3 & 5) Intro to Social Formations: Communication, Institutions and Power
(1) Langdon Winner. 1996. Who Will We Be In Cyberspace? The Information Society 12: 63-72.
In this article, Winner identifies some “basic tendencies of modernism,” drawing on scholars from
various fields who have considered “periods [in US history] in which momentous choices about the
future were up for grabs.”
What are the “basic tendencies of modernism” that Winner identifies, and what does he say about them?
What examples can you think of to illustrate them?
(3) On The Media. Mar 23, 2018. For Facebook, Alarm Bells Have Been Ringing For Years.
[Listen to the podcast or read the transcript.]
What does Prof. Siva Vaidhyananthan say are Facebook’s core functions, and what does he suggest
should be done about them?
WEEK 2 (Apr 10 & 12) Public Media Systems
What is the difference between the public sphere model and the market model of media systems?
(1) Rodney Benson and Matthew Powers. 2014. Public Media and Political Independence: Lessons for the Future of
Journalism from Around the World. Free Press. [You will not be responsible for knowing details of particular national public media systems. Focus on the Executive Summary and Part I of this report (pp 1-14).]
Benson and Powers argue that strong public media systems facilitate more democratic politics than
media systems dominated by the market model (like the U.S.). Why is that, as they explain it? What are
some ways they identify for ensuring the independence or autonomy of publicly funded media systems,
insulating them from government interference? What do they suggest matters most for rigorous and
independent journalism, whether in publicly or privately funded news media systems?
(2) Dan Hallin. 2000. Media, Political Power, and Democratization in Mexico. In Curran & Park (Eds.) De-Westernizing Media Studies. Routledge, pp. 85-95.
• What does Mexico’s media system look like?
• What is the relationship between the media system and the government in Mexico? How much/how
little does the government control the media?
• What is Televisa? How does Dan Hallin describe Televisa, and especially Televisa’s news division?
WEEK 3 (Apr 17 & 19) Media Economics / The Political Economy of the Media
(1) Victor Pickard. 2017. A Social Democratic Vision of Media: Toward a Radical Pre-History of Public Broadcasting.
Journal of Radio and Audio Media 24:2, 200-212. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2017.1362853
• Why is the US media system an outlier among democratic media systems, according to Pickard?
• What is a “social democratic” vision of broadcast media? How does it differ from a “corporate
(2) Robert McChesney. 2013. Ch 3: How Can the Political Economy of Communication Help Us Understand the Internet? In Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. The New Press, pp. 63-95.
• What are “critical junctures,” and when do they tend to occur in media and communication systems,
according to McChesney? What conditions suggest that we are at another critical juncture?
• What are the great communication transformations, according to McChesney?
• What should a healthy journalism should entail, according to McChesney?
• Why should journalism privilege the information needs of those with the least economic and political
power, according to Robert McChesney?
• According to Robert McChesney, how did the U.S. reconcile the conflict between the profit-oriented
demands of a commercial news media and the information needs of a political democracy?
(3) Ted Johnson. April 1, 2018. AT&T Time Warner Trial: Turner CEO Cites Threat of Google, Facebook. Variety.
• What was the reason that Turner Networks CEO John Martin gave in his testimony at the AT&T-Time
Warner antitrust trial for why his company needed the merger?