Technology, Media and Democracy: Addressing the Threats to an Informed Electorate

Winter/Spring Semester, 2018

This course represents a New York City-wide effort to create new tech that supports and defends journalism and media -- the most critical elements of our democracy -- as they are increasingly threatened by political and market forces. The course brings together journalism, design, media studies, and technical disciplines to understand the various threats to journalism and media, and attempt to address these challenges using technical and computational methods and techniques.

The free press, journalism and the media are some of the most critical elements of our democracy, but have been increasingly under attack by political and market forces. These challenges include: dwindling resources and support for deep investigative journalism; smear, law and technical and even physical assaults of media organizations and journalists; challenges to credibility and reliability including fake news and discrediting campaigns; and shifting business models and income sources that threaten both local and national news organizations and coverage. 

How the Class Works

The main content of this course will be provided in a weekly meeting in a semi-rotating location. In addition, there will be two hackathon events which will jumpstart the class projects, where students form groups and work on addressing the challenges discussed in previous weeks.

Curriculum Topics

  • Supporting Journalism with Tech
  • Credibility and Misinformation
  • Defending Journalism and Media
  • Monetization and Business

Partner Universities and Student Programs

We believe addressing a set of problems this challenging requires multiple interdisciplinary perspectives. Therefore, the course brings together over 110 students from six universities and (at least) 14 different academic programs.

  • Cornell Tech: MS Connective Media, MEng Computer Science
  • New School (Parsons): MFA Design and Technology, MS Data Visualization, MFA Transdisciplinary Design, MA Design Studies
  • Columbia Journalism School
  • New York University: ITP, IDM Masters programs
  • CUNY Graduate School of Journalism: Social Journalism Program, Entrepreneurial Journalism Program
  • Pratt: Writing MFA 
  • CUNY-Queens: MA Media Studies, MA TV/Radio (Brooklyn College)