Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

JMS Offering News and Social Media Course to Cover COVID-19 and 2020 Election

JMS course educates students about mass communication amid the global pandemic and upcoming presidential election

JMS Offering News and Social Media Course to Cover COVID-19 and 2020 Election

by Baylee Akins

June 29, 2020

There are many enduring issues at the intersection of news and social media, including the ways that social media is used to search and share news. Even with the evolution of the 24-hour news cycle, information overload can occur and it can be difficult to navigate the facts.

Given the information surge we’ve experienced during the COVID-19 global pandemic and the expected surge for the 2020 presidential election, the SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies has elected to again offer JMS 525: News and Social Media, to cover these hot topics and others.

The course is designed to investigate the extent to which Instagram, Facebook and Twitter now dominate the digital journalism intersection, creating a new pathway to news for many people and how top online news sites get a portion of their web traffic from these social platforms, redefining news consumption habits and what we consider news.

“This course was conceptualized after I started seeing a lot of the ways that the traditional news media were normalizing social media into their daily routines, not just sharing the news but also constructing it,” said professor Arthur Santana, who will be teaching the course this fall.

The course will also delve into the way messages are crafted on these platforms, the rise of “fake news” and misinformation that shaped the 2016 presidential election, and how they may, again, shape the 2020 election.

The course will also discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how messages from legacy news and social media have become intertwined to create an “infodemic” (overabundance of information, whether true or false) that makes it hard to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance.

“With the arrival of COVID-19, we’re watching how the spread of misinformation or confusing information on social media is often at odds with the information by the traditional news media, and even health organizations,” said Santana. “We have to begin to ask ourselves: In a new digital era, which has the power to control the news agenda? And at what cost?”

While it’s important to learn about these trends as a media consumer, it’s also imperative to analyze the impacts to the journalism industry, including a new host of best practices and an array of ethical quandaries media professionals now face.

“My research in this area demonstrates that social media appears to be coalescing into the daily routines of journalists, even as social media is calling into question the individualistic, top-down ideology of traditional journalism,” said Santana.

Santana goes on to explain that in many ways, the culture of connectivity (with an emphasis on information sharing and seeking gratification), is challenging many of the long-held conventions of mass communication theory. As 2020 continues to make history, this course will allow students to explore how journalists are using social media as part of their reporting practices.

This course will be offered online in fall 2020.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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