JOUR 375/COMM 372/SWMS 371: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture

If you love film or television or videogames or any part of popular culture, this is the class for you.

Together we explore the impact of conflicting images of the journalist in popular culture on the American public’s perception of newsgatherers in the 20th and 21st centuries. The public takes its images wherever it sees and hears them and in the end, it really doesn’t matter to the public if these images are real or fantasy, true or false. The reality is that few people ever witness a journalist in action. They rarely visit a newspaper or magazine office or a broadcast newsroom or any other place where journalists work to report the news of the day. Yet they have a very specific idea of what a journalist is and what he or she does because they have read about journalists in novels, short stories and comic books, and they have seen them in movies, TV programs, plays, and cartoons. The public bases its impressions and understanding of the news media on these images.  This class explores why this is so.

“The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture” also explores the history of journalism, diversity and gender description in journalism, and offers the student a unique experience in media literacy and the understanding of how the news media work.

The instructor, Joe Saltzman, is an award-winning professor of journalism and communication at USC Annenberg for more than 47 years. An experienced multimedia journalist, Saltzman is also director of the IJPC, a project of the Norman Lear Center and for 20 years has studied the image of the journalist creating this new academic field.

His new book, Heroes and Scoundrels: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture (written by Matthew C. Erhlich and Saltzman) was released by the University of Illinois Press in April 2015 and is already considered the definitive book on the subject.

The IJPC Database and web site have long been the definitive resources on the image of the journalist in popular culture.


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