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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2021/2022

Communications and media competence in modern world

Type: Compulsory course (Political Science and World Politics)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 1 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Open to: students of all HSE University campuses
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus

Abstract

Students in higher education engage with the world of digital media while doing various projects in a variety of disciplines. Yet, digital media has been heavily criticized for misinforming, manipulating the truth, escalating social issues and serving the agenda of the powerful. One rarely knows how/why/with what consequences communication happens in the contemporary digital space. How can we read the news — and discern fake information from trustworthy? How can we powerfully engage in a meaningful and fair conversation in digital media? The 15-week course develops students’ ability to critically consume digital media information and to powerfully engage in a conversation, by using rhetoric, argumentation, and theories behind communication behavior in the society. Students will learn how to ‘read’ news and information posted online as well as learn how to produce news and information which has a strong impact. The language of instruction is English. The course partly draws on the lecture material from the Coursera MOOC, Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens (https://www.coursera.org/learn/news-literacy/)
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • This course is designed to develop students’ knowledge of how media information is produced and consumed. The course will give an overview of various media phenomena that may influence our view of the world (e.g. agenda setting, misinformation, manipulative techniques, etc.) — and provide a better understanding of factors driving our trust in information. The ultimate goal of the course is to help students critically assess information in the digital environment and spot their own biases in media consumption. During this course students will learn not only to apply analytical and critical skills while consuming online media, but also to proactively use rhetoric and argumentation in a public discussion.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn to understand the process of media production and its influence on society
  • Students will learn to discriminate between the quality journalism and adverse media practices
  • Students will learn to understand personal biases in media consumption
  • Students will learn to spot manipulative and misinforming content online
  • Students will learn to assess and adjust personal media consumption habits
  • Students will learn to distinguish what counts as argument and analyze the argumentation techniques used in the media
  • Students will learn to build strong arguments in public discussions
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Media production and media consumption
    Changing role of media in today’s world. Professional practices performed by journalists. Cycles of news production. Role of the audience in content creation and distribution. Instructor: Victoria Vziatysheva, journalist, podcast editor at “Bumaga”, research intern at the Laboratory for Social and Cognitive informatics, HSE
  • Quality news vs manipulative content
    News criteria. Journalistic standards in news production — and their violations. Types of manipulative content (e.g. advertising, clickbait headlines, fake news, etc.) and their features. Instructor: Victoria Vziatysheva, journalist, podcast editor at “Bumaga”, research intern at the Laboratory for Social and Cognitive informatics, HSE
  • Biases in media production and consumption
    Media effects and imbalanced coverage (e.g. framing, agenda setting). Cognitive biases in information processing by the audience (e.g. confirmation bias, priming, etc.) Instructor: Victoria Vziatysheva, journalist, podcast editor at “Bumaga”, research intern at the Laboratory for Social and Cognitive informatics, HSE
  • Sources on information
    Analyzing sources of media information. Types of sources (e.g. officials, PR, social media, etc.). Anonymous sources. Imbalanced sources. Tracking the origins of the news. Instructor: Victoria Vziatysheva, journalist, podcast editor at “Bumaga”, research intern at the Laboratory for Social and Cognitive informatics, HSE
  • Applying news literacy deconstruction basics
    Seven steps of news deconstruction. Debunking the viral news. Roles of different information media (text, images, audio, video) in shaping the news. Instructor: Olga Tsybina, tutor at the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Digital citizenship
    Numbers in context: Opinion polls and surveys. “Problematic” medical science. Biases in health and political news. Instructor: Olga Tsybina, tutor at the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Media diet
    When and where to consume news. Media detox. Hard/soft/junk news, partisan/business/entertainment/mainstream media. Assessing quality of media consumption. Instructor: Olga Tsybina, tutor at the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Media ownership
    Media ownership concentration. State-controlled media. Sources of income. The influence of the type of ownership on the news agenda. Insctructor: Olga Tsybina, tutor at the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Local media
    Discussing media production and media ethics on the example of a local media outlet. Trends for niche and personalized media. Role of communities in media production. Insctructor:Victoria Vziatysheva, journalist, podcast editor at “Bumaga”, research intern at the Laboratory for Social and Cognitive informatics, HSE
  • Media literacy in the context of political science
    How to detect the influence of a political regime on the level of censorship and propaganda. How to spot these phenomena in media messages and news agenda. Theory of informational autocracy by Guriev and Treisman. Instructor: Valeriy Nechay, editor-in-chief of “Echo of Moscow” in St. Petersburg, academic supervisor of the program “Media Production and Media Analysis”, lecturer
  • What counts as ‘argument’
    What counts as ‘argument’: key theories. Argument types. Rhetoric and argumentation in contemporary media. Instructor: Natalia Smirnova, associate professor, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Argumentation: the power of context
    The role of the ‘context’ in argument building. Cultural, social, political, and economic factors influencing the process of argumentation. Instructor: Natalia Smirnova, associate professor, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
  • Blogs and social networks
    New authenticity vs. manipulation in blogs and comments. Phenomena of “info-gypsies” and social bots. Instructor: Olga Tsybina, tutor at the Department of Foreign Languages, HSE
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Class work
    3 graded assignments — seminars by Victoria Vziatysheva 3 graded assignments — seminars by Olga Tsybina 1 graded assignment — seminar by Natalia Smirnova 1 graded assignment — seminar by Valeriy Nechay Students are expected to participate in the discussions and contribute to the work of fellow students. During the seminars, students will receive several group tasks primarily based on the case analysis. They will be asked to critically assess provided materials and share their conclusions with the rest of the group.
  • non-blocking Presentations
    Students will be asked to prepare several presentations throughout the class. Presentations can be done individually or in groups. The reports should be prepared based on the provided literature and personal research and presented in class. The estimated time for a presentation — up to 20 min plus up to 10 min for the Q&A session.
  • non-blocking Examination Part I: Final task
    For the final assignment students need to search for and analyze their own case related to one of the course topics. Format: pre-recorded video presentation (~15 min) Criteria for case selection: the case is relatively recent (not more than 10 years old); the case in related to media; the case was not provided by the instructors during the course; the case has enough background for the analysis; the case relates to the topics of the course; multiple related cases (e.g. several texts) can be chosen. General requirements for the assignment: Give a summary of the case analyzed; Identify which media phenomena it relates to; Provide theoretical background for the discussed phenomenon; Suggest which potential political, social, cultural, and economical outcomes the phenomenon represented by the case may have for the society (on different levels). Support the arguments with the theory and/or empirical evidence. Suggest practical guidelines to solve/improve/resist the case/the phenomenon represented (depending on the particular topic). Possible topics for cases: spread of misinformation; violation of media ethics; argumentation in media (positive and negative examples); biases created by the media (e.g. framing).
  • non-blocking Examination Part II:Review
    Apart from the final task, each student needs to provide meaningful and substantive feedback on the work of at least two other fellow students. Format: text (~ 0.5–1 page) Requirements for the review: Discuss the advantages of the report; Discuss the disadvantages of the report; Mention what was not clear enough; Suggest what can be improved and how.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.5 * Class work + 0.4 * Examination Part I: Final task + 0.1 * Examination Part II:Review
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bruns, A. (2018). Gatewatching and news curation: Journalism, social media, and the public sphere. Australia, Australia/Oceania: Peter Lang. https://doi.org/10.3726/b13293

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K. H., & Cook, J. (2017). Beyond Misinformation:Understanding and Coping with the “Post-Truth” Era. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.07.008