The *@#%* Media: Pulling Back the Curtain on Fake News

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 22, 2020 - July 10, 20206/22 - 7/10M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenJonathan Ebinger

Course Description

Everywhere we turn—from the classroom to comedy shows to social media—someone is always bringing up the media and fake news. What is fake news? Is all of this something new? How can we tell what is “fake” and what is real? Can we figure this out ourselves, without having to go through the media filter?

Well, what do you think?

In this class an Emmy Award winning journalist will provide you with the ability to ask and answer these critical questions. Together, this will lead to our final project, and a formula for how the media can work to regain public trust and faith.

The primary objective of this course will be to provide students with a framework for defining accuracy in the media, and for distinguishing between truthful and (ahem) less than truthful reports in the media that exists today.

By the end of this fast-paced 3-week course students should be able to:

•Distinguish between legitimate news coverage, and real fake news
•Know the difference between a fact, and a truth
•Document how to fact check a story, or a news source, for validity
•Challenge the ingredients in a mainstream news story
•Assess the role of social media as a silent partner….all the while asking, a silent partner of what???
•View mainstream media to determine whether it has a future
•Critically deconstruct front-page stories
•Independently assess the viability of a story to command attention from the general public, not just people hyper-focused on news

We will read recent works like NBC correspondent Katy Tur’s Unbelievable which documents the 500 days she spent covering Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.

We will see how purveyors of fake news have been successful injecting their bias into the mainstream media, and into your best friend’s mother’s Facebook page.

And we will examine essays on media, cultural trends, and forecasts for the media future.

Prerequisites: Students planning for this class should bring an interest in current events, great curiosity about the role of media in society, a willingness to challenge existing assumptions, and a very healthy skepticism.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMS0918
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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