Interesting posts last week, students, on the omnipresence of Fake News and the value of the First Amendment. Based on your insightful comments, it does seem we need media venues to do their part “protecting and serving” us. At the same time, it’s also clear that the “Fourth Estate” needs help from a watchful “Fifth Estate,” which is society itself. We all need to be wary nowadays of what news is “useful, relevant, and factual”. In other words, journalists and the media entities they work for require informed, critical readers and viewers, just as much as we need them. The fifth estate then is another “set of eyes” that helps keep our democracy vibrant and vital.
Over the next two weeks, we will be hearing and learning from several courageous journalists and citizens (company insiders) who play thoughtful roles as critics of media, government, and society.
Let’s first focus on Maria Ressa, co-founder of the digital media company Rappler and an outspoken critic of iron-fisted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It’s important to note that Maria was co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize — a really big deal, especially for a female journalist.
Please listen to this interview of her as she explains her aims as a journalist and reveals her thoughts on the global assault on “truth and trust” by leaders such as Duterte, Putin, and Trump and the social media giant Facebook. She ends with some important points about the lack of women in powerful journalism positions today.
Speaking out requires courage. Last week, as Melissa points out in her post, the story of the whistle-blower Frances Haugen was splashed across innumerable news outlets. A former, high-ranking Facebook employee Haugen quit her job at the company and explained why at a Congressional hearing. As she alleges, Facebook’s own research showed that the media giant’s platform “amplified hate, misinformation, and political unrest” but did nothing to combat this fact.
Are the dangers of Social Media real? This is one topic of great debate on all sides. To find out what journalists are thinking, we can turn to the genre of the Opinion Piece, or OpEd. Your next writing assignment will be to write your own OpEd on a topic important to you, but for this week I ask that you:
- Carefully “listen” to the words of Maria Cessa (in her interview and/or documentary)
- View the 60 minutes interview with ex-Facebook Employee, Frances Haugen
- Read the opposing OpEds: “For Teens, Instagram is a Cesspool” and “The Moral Panic Engulfing Instagram”
- Post a response that reflects your thoughts on Maria Ressa or the Facebook Debate.
We are now at the mid-point of the semester. I have provided a mid-term grade based on your posts thus far. I have also graded completed student profiles. Go to “Check Grade Icon” on the right to check on your standing in this course. Please complete any missing posts and/or your student profile assignment this week.