This semester, I'm proudly co-teaching a seminar course with my Diederich College of Communication colleague, James Scotton, that focuses on how the media report on political campaigns and local, state and national elections. Among the course objectives are gathering and curating social media to tell and present stories about campaigns and elections; developing a journalist's blog that offers fair and accurate commentary about media coverage, and analyzing how candidates use the media – and money – to shape their campaign messages.
The course textbook is "The Obama Victory: How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election." Published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, the book is authored by three scholars – Kate Kenski, Bruce Hardy, and Kathleen Jamieson – and addresses why Obama's election will go down as among the most pivotal in U.S. presidential history. As this is primarily a writing course, each student will write a weekly analysis of a book chapter and attempt to apply its findings and concepts to the national campaign underway four years later.
Each of the 12 students this semester will also offer a 10-minute presentation about a hot-button election issue; the choices were abortion, civil rights, civil unions, criminal justice, the economy, education, the environment, family values, foreign affairs, health care, homeland security and immigration. They will also each present their findings about an assigned contested congressional, gubernatorial or mayoral campaign; live tweet from a couple of political events on campus, and blog at least once weekly about political coverage from an assigned news media website.
Here's hoping the Republican presidential nomination isn't decided any time soon, as we'll have much deeper and more relevant discussion if Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich continue to pummel one another with their political ads and the media get to demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses in the heat of battle. I'm slated to teach the course again in the fall, when the GOP nominee tries to keep Obama from being re-elected. Looking forward to it.