A pop-up journalism course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall will be devoted to studying President Donald Trump's adversarial relationship with news media and how his administration uses information.
The course, titled "Trumpaganda: The war on facts, press and democracy," is a new offering in an upper-level journalism course that rotates varying topics, projects and research related to the field.
The twice-weekly, lecture-style course is being offered during the second half of the fall term, from October to December, according to the course catalog.
The Daily Illini first reported the establishment of the course.
Taught by associate professor Mira Sotirovic, the course will examine how the president has cultivated a facts-averse, anti-mainstream-media strategy during his candidacy, and escalated such tactics through social media and official statements during his first two years in office, according to the course description.
"As a candidate, Trump employed the most common propaganda device, name-calling, to define, degrade, discredit and destroy his primary opponents as well as the 'fake' news media," the course description reads. "By the second year in his presidency, President Trump's rhetorical attacks on mainstream media continue -- he has labeled them the 'enemy of the people' -- and not only dominate his tweets but also are a centerpiece of his every press conference and public statement."
The course will also seek to put the Trump administration's relationship with the news media in context with the relationship of previous administrations. "Previous American administrations have had a contentious relationship with the news media, but the Trump administration's conflict with the press is different in strategies and tactics, challenging Americans' tendency to think of propaganda as something that doesn't happen in democratic societies," the course description said.
This course is separate from a regular journalism course called "Propaganda and the News Media," which is typically offered in the spring term and is focused on identifying and analyzing the techniques of propaganda and what role the news media play in enabling those strategies. Some of that instruction will be incorporated into Sotirovic's course, she said.
"Propaganda is effective only if it is concealed and camouflaged as something else, such as news, advertisements or PR releases, and it is critical to learn how to detect propaganda and recognize propagandistic features of any communication, including presidential," Sotirovic told The Daily Illini.
Sotirovic recently contributed to the 2018 book "Communication In the Age of Trump," a collection of essays and studies from academics in media studies on the president. Sotirovic collaborated with Christopher Benson, associate professor at Northwestern University's Medill journalism school, in a chapter titled "Donald Trump 'Tells You What He Thinks.'"