Washington Center

Washington Media: Fake News, Social Media, and the Reshaping of American Politics

Day and Time: 
Wednesdays, 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Quarter Dates: 
September 20 - November 29, 2023
Semester Dates: 
August 23 - November 29, 2023
Core Seminar

Do Twitter or Facebook threaten democracy? What is the difference between “fake news” and journalism? Should the media report what people want to know or ought to know? Does objectivity exist?

This seminar examines the extraordinary changes to political communication and journalism over the past half century and the consequences for American democracy. The first year of Biden’s presidency and the aftermath of Trump’s are a great backdrop to assess the news media’s mission, goals, and biases. We will look at the media’s incentives to fuel controversy, politicians’ efforts to manipulate – or lie to -- the media, and how the digital revolution has fundamentally restructured – for better and worse -- the future of political communication. Classes will combine lecture, discussion, and exercises with an emphasis on current developments. Readings include scholarly articles, a book of your choice, and a steady diet of news and journal pieces to keep up with political developments.

Students will complete a major research project on a newsworthy topic which will be written in journalistic form in addition to shorter writing and speaking assignments. All assignments are aimed at sharpening research and writing skills, with a focus on identifying target audiences and communicating with clarity. Assignments may be adjusted to meet individual campus requirements. 

About the Professor: Professor Marc Sandalow is an Associate Director of the University of California Washington Program (UCDC). He is the author of three books, including “Madam Speaker,” a biography of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has been a journalist for 30 years, including 21 years at the San Francisco Chronicle and more than a decade as the paper’s Washington Bureau Chief. He is a former columnist and contributing editor for the California Journal, and is a currently a political analyst for Hearst Argyle television stations and KCBS radio in San Francisco. Professor Sandalow has been the UCDC program since 2008.

Requirement for ALL semester students:

The first four weeks of this semester (August 23 to September 13) will be spent in a special topics module taught by Professor Marc Sandalow on Wednesdays from 6:30-9:30p.m. This module will account for 15% of the core seminar final course grade. Please contact Professor Sandalow (marc.sandalow@ucdc.edu) with questions.

Your selected seminar will begin the week of September 18 and your seminar instructor will officially be your instructor of record for the term, responsible for computing and submitting final course grades at the end of the term.

**NO additional registration required.

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