PO/CM 320 - Media and Current Affairs in France and the European Union

This course will explore and critically analyze major institutions, actors and trends in contemporary French media and will attempt to situate them in the larger contexts of “unifying” Europe and the “globalized” world-media-scene.

We will examine the operational schemes, performances and internal decisional and power structures of different branches of French media: written national and regional press, specialized magazines, the publishing industry, advertising, radio, television, and the internet.

We will attempt a specific analysis regarding the international and French implications of the growing potential of social networks and “New Media.” We’ll critically review some aspects of the growing confusion—both in terms of competition and compatibility—between “new” and “old” media and their political, social and cultural impacts. 

In the domain of social and political presence, we will study and question practices of newsgathering, deontological principles and constraints, media performance under pressure of time, context, profit-making-structures, politics, violence, ethics and ideologies.  We will examine forms and styles of “information”, editorial policies and the variety of notions of “democratic pluralism” across the French and European media landscapes.

We will try to define and decode distinctions between “news”, “commentary” and “analysis” as they are being treated on the French and European media scenes.  We’ll analyze what all these may mean, encourage, cultivate or block in terms of both politics, society, culture and media during “high times” of political turmoil, violent crisis or social unrest.

The course will alternate traditional lectures and critical discussions and the analysis of written, illustrated, audio, visual and virtual excerpts.

Every session will include a compact set of short oral presentations (about 4-5 minutes long) of students addressing specific aspects of the assigned reading material, previous (or future) class discussions and the field visits.

Course Information


Political Science

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