It is a common practice to criticize how issues are represented in media. But how exactly can we evaluate media representations? Which criteria, skills and tools do we need to undertake such a mission? And when can we speak of a representation that contributes (or not) to facilitating democratic debate about a particular social issue or public affair?
This course module sets out to address these questions. Based on insights from political philosophy and media sociology, the first part of the module entails an in-depth discussion of concepts such as democracy, diversity, pluralism, objectivity, consensus, ideology and (de)politicization, and methods such as critical discourse and framing analysis. This is made concrete in the second part of the module by discussing recent empirical case studies. These case studies include environmental, political and economic issues such as climate change, new (bio)technologies, new political movements, and austerity policies and protests. For each of these cases we will discuss to what extent, and in what ways, both professional-commercialized media (such as De Standaard and De Morgen) and alternative media (such as DeWereldMorgen) are found to contribute to democratic debate and agonistic media pluralism in their representation of these cases.
During the course module, a researcher’s guide is made available that allows you to analyze and evaluate a mediated debate on its pluralistic and democratic characteristics.
At the end of the course module a professional journalist is invited for a guest lecture, after which a debate follows between students, the journalist, and the lecturer.