Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Civic Media: A Syllabus

Over the past few terms, I've been sharing here the syllabi of the new courses I am developing at the University of Southern California, courses which build upon my own research interests and are intended to open up space for students to pursue their own projects. In the fall, I am going to be teaching two classes, both graduate seminars -- Civic Media for the Journalism School and Medium Specificity for the Cinema School. I am sharing my Civic Media syllabus here and will share the Medium Specificity syllabus later this summer. I am sharing these in part in hopes they prove useful to other researchers and teachers and in part because I am hoping to help spread the word to USC students who might be interested in learning more on these topics. The Civic Media class is intended, as the syllabus suggests, as a nexus between Communications and Journalism students, but I also assume it may appeal to students in Political Science, History, Education, perhaps even some in Engineering or Computer Science who want to build tools for supporting civic engagement or activism. If you know of someone at USC who might be interested in this class, please pass the word.

The Need to Know

"The press has done an admirable (albeit belated) job with the technical complexities of MMS's (Minerals Management Services of the Interior Department) administrative failings. What is not being asked, and what the press needs to focus on, is whether MMS's problems are endemic to the entire federal government."
From Nieman Watchdog

Two stories in the media raised an eyebrow in June:

One was a front-page takeout on June 10 in USA Today on adult pools in Las Vegas. A legitimate story, to be sure, reflecting the world we live in. What was remarkable, considering the BP disaster and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was that for the next five days on the top of the USA Today website the pool story continued to be No. 1 among the Top Five Most Popular Stories on the site.

On June 15 — five days after the original pools story ran — it still led the list. The most popular stories were:

Participatory Youth Media Training Conducted in Gaza

Voices Beyond Walls conducted its first ever 3-day Training of Trainers (ToT) course on participatory digital media and storytelling with youth at the Canaan Institute of New Pedagogy in Gaza City from June 28-30, 2010. The ToT was led by Dr. Nitin Sawhney, with assistance from Asmaa Al Ghoul, an award-winning writer and journalist in Gaza, and Nasser El Sayyed, the lead coordinator for Les Enfants, Le Jeu et l’Education (EJE) in Gaza.

While we expected around 20-25 participants, we were surprised to see around 36 young men and woman coming to attend all 3 days of the course. They all had prior experience working on creative programs with youth in local community centers including Canaan, Tamer Institute, Sharek Youth Forum, Right to Play, and the EJE woman and children’s centers in Gaza refugee camps like Al Abraj, Jabaliya and Rafah. Many even had experience with photo, video and drama techniques and contributed to the critical dialogue in the sessions quite well.

Launching the Re-imagining Project in West Bank and Gaza in Summer 2010

Since 2006, I have been leading a participatory media program called Voices Beyond Walls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with a local and international team of artists, filmmakers and educators. This summer our teams are launching a program of parallel workshops in the West Bank and Gaza, as part of our new Re-imagining Project.

The “Re-imagining Project” is a program of digital video, photography and storytelling workshops that supports Palestinian children and youth in expressing their cultural identity, personal narratives, and creative visions through participatory digital media.

This project is a collaboration among Voices Beyond Walls, Les Enfants, Le Jeu et l’Education (EJE), UNRWA and participating community centers in Al Aroub and Jabaliya refugee camps.

The program consists of the following key activities in summer 2010:

I. Conducting two 3-day Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions in Ramallah and Gaza City between June 28 to June 30, 2010. It will be conducted with 20-30 Palestinian volunteers from local youth centers, to provide participatory youth media training and prepare them to serve as potential workshop facilitators.

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture: An Interview with Joe Saltzman (Part Three)


Science fiction media offers us a chance to envision the future of news. What images have surfaced there most frequently?

Journalists of the future apparently have the same problems as journalists in the past. In a TV Sci-Fi series called Dark Angel, created by Jim Cameron in 2000, a journalist, crippled by the enemy, broadcasts news and revolutionary information by hacking into government television. He is a traditional hero in the future. So are Max Headroom and the TV staff around him. They are working in a corrupt system trying to do the best job they can at informing the public. Almost every journalist in science fiction faces the same problems journalists have faced throughout history. The technology is different. The villains can even be aliens. But the problems are the same and the way the journalist faces the problems hasn't changed in 2,000 years. Often, these sci-fi journalists will risk their lives and may even get killed to make sure the public is informed.

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