Journalism, Peace, and War [CRN 81252]

Discipline: Journalism and Media Communication
Instructor: Berkowitz
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1400
End: 1520
Field Work: Day 2 | September 28, 2018 | Ghana
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Whether at war or in peace, one constant around the globe is the threat of political violence, more commonly called “terrorism.” Terrorism also goes beyond politics to encompass culture, ideology, and religion, among other dimensions. The concept of terrorism has begun to pervade the minds of Americans, as well as people all around the world. At the same time, the meanings of the word “terrorism” have become more varied and less precise. Media coverage about terrorism has raised more questions than it has provided answers. This ambiguity has surfaced in television shows, movies and the Internet as well.

This course therefore focuses on the interface between media and terrorism.  Through readings and discussion, we will explore models for depicting and analyzing media coverage of terrorism events taking place both within and outside a country. We will explore the concept of terrorism, media portrayals of terrorism, and the cultural meanings and symbols that emerge about terrorism. Course requirements include exams, student-led overviews of readings and media content, and student discussions of key topics and terrorism-related films.

Field Work

Country: Ghana
Day: 2
Date: September 28, 2018

The field class meets on Friday, September 28 in Tema, Ghana. According to the BBC, Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992, with little in the way of war, conflict or terrorism in its history since then. The country gained its independence from the UK in 1957. At a January 2018 press conference, President Akufo-Addo assured that Ghanaians are safe from any terrorist attacks, although other regions on the continent are experiencing acts of terrorism. Ghana as a nation is slightly smaller than the US state of Oregon. Approximately 70% of the country is Christian, with nearly 60% of the population under the age of 25 years.

We begin our Field Class with a visit to the Ghana Institute of Journalism, where we will meet with faculty and students to discuss how the country views itself in relation to war, peace, conflict and terrorism. We will also learn about the Institute’s approach to journalism education. After lunch, we will visit TV3 – one of the leading television stations in Ghana – to learn how journalism is practiced there.

Students will be evaluated based on a report that contrasts the nature of media coverage in Ghana with how war, peace, conflict and terrorism are covered in other parts of the continent. Each student will take notes during the day on what they are learning about Ghana’s media. Notes will be typed into a two-page report, using a bullet-point format. More information will be provided separately. The paper and notes are due on Thursday, October 4.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To build an understanding of how peace, war and terrorism appear in the news of a peaceful nation.
  2. To explore how coverage of peace and conflict shape perceptions of the world within a nation
  3. To enhance critical thinking about media messages in society, both domestically and in the global arena.