Introducing the "Media and Politics" course
- Photo: French 2017 Presidential Debate (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)
Ever wondered just how much power the media really has over our elections? Pr. Emiliano Grossman can help answer this complex question, and many others, in his class "Media and Politics". Read our interview with him to know more about the course he is teaching in the June session.
The role of the media in politics has been a major story recently in many different countries. What are some of the case studies students will examine in your class?
The idea is to focus on participants' proximity to certain cases - linguistic or other. The past two years have been very rich in elections or referenda where media played a major role. This is true for the US election of November 2016 and the Brexit vote, of course, but also for the Dutch, French and German elections, the Czech presidential elections and certainly also for the upcoming Italian general election.
Beyond elections, it would be interesting to concentrate on policy case studies, e.g. focusing on how certain issues are mediatized and how mediatization affects public debate and ultimately public decision-making. A good case in line would be the introduction of gay marriage in several countries over the past ten years. Other issues where the media may play an interesting role are "moral issues", e.g. bioethical issues, or political scandals of all kinds.
What type of tools will students learn in your course to analyze media discourse?
The course will tend to be divided into more theoretical and conceptual mornings and hands-on afternoons. The goal is to equip participants with a variety of tools of analysis. How far they go will depend a little bit on their prior knowledge of statistical software.
On the more qualitative side, we will explore a couple of simple tools of textmining to analyse word frequencies, clusters, clouds and some sentiment analysis. Statistical software will allow to do this on larger batches and in a more automated manner. Depending on the general interest and prior knowledge of the group, we may go as far as exploring topic modelling.
Last year, the Summer School included students from almost 60 different nationalities. What will this international perspective bring to your class?
I believe this is fundamental. The discussion and comparison of a great variety of media systems is part of the academic goals of this course. The link between political institutions, type of government and media can only be explored through comparison. The more countries are represented among the students, the more we will be able to rely on personal experience to exemplify causal relationships and differences in media-state relations. And we will also be able to better understand the elements that are purely media-specific, i.e. independent from the political context and transnational.
What is the most important thing that students will get out of your class that will help them understand the media and politics in current events?
Students should leave the course with a good knowledge of the major trends in the media-politics relation. They should moreover be able to provide examples, gather data and analyze it to improve data-driven decision-making in the public or private sector. No matter the previous level of proficiency, the idea is to significantly improve your skills in this area.
For more information, read the 2018 course overview for "Media and Politics".
Emiliano Grossman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po, working at the Centre d'études européennes in Paris. He is originally from Argentina, but grew up in Germany before coming to France for university. He studied at Sciences Po, the LSE and the University of Cambridge. He teaches comparative politics, media and politics, and related subjects. At Sciences Po, he coordinates the program on "Politics and Public Policy" at the School of Public Affairs and co-directs the research axis on "Evaluating democracy" at LIEPP. He is also the co-editor of the European Journal of Political Research. His research concentrates on agenda-setting, political institutions and media, and politics. Currently, he is especially interested in the determinants of people's judgements of government performance and the way media influences policymaking.