“Trumpaganda: The War on Facts, Press, and Democracy” is a new journalism course — yes, you read that right — currently being offered at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
The course reportedly will analyze President Donald Trump’s “disinformation campaign,” the ways in which he uses “propaganda,” and the implications for “American democracy and a free press.”
The course allegedly aims to challenge students to see that propaganda is a part of democratic societies, as Campus Reform noted in a piece about it.
The class is specifically centered around the president’s battles with the mainstream media, which he calls “fake news,” his “war on facts,” and how he uses “propaganda” in his tweets, press conferences, and public statements, according to the course description.
“Based on the name of the class, I can tell that I would probably learn a lot about Trump and propaganda,” one student, Elise Guillen, told student newspaper The Daily Illini. “Although I’m not the biggest fan of Trump, it’s important to know what the president is doing and how we, as Americans, are influenced and even portrayed with things like his tweets.”
No word on whether the course will also cover bias in the mainstream media, which many could also choose to view as propaganda.
The course “shows how far both academia and media have fallen,” Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at Media Research Center, told Campus Reform. “The course description pretends that the press never does anything wrong in its coverage of Trump and that he’s the one pushing ‘propaganda.'”
He added, “The very name of the course, ‘Trumpaganda,’ shows that no student should expect an honest look at the subject matter,” Gainor added. “I have news for anyone teaching this ‘course.’ If they think state-funded propaganda doesn’t happen in democratic societies, I need to introduce them to PBS, NPR, and BBC, just for starters. All three push a liberal worldview and rely on taxpayer dollars to do it. Somehow, I don’t expect that to make the course selection for 2019.”
Mira Sotirovic, the professor teaching the course, has written extensively on the president’s communication strategies, said Campus Reform. A section of her own website is devoted to her propaganda investigations.
“This particular course is the first of what we hope will be a series of what we’re thinking [of] as pop-up courses, where we’re trying to identify things that are very in the news and build an eight-week course around it that would be of interest to the broader university community, not just journalism majors,” Stephanie Craft, the university’s journalism department head, told The Daily Illini.
Sotirovic, who is teaching the course, also weighed in.
“Propaganda is effective only if it is concealed and camouflaged as something else, such as news, advertisements or PR [public relations] releases, and it is critical to learn how to detect propaganda and recognize propagandistic features of any communication, including presidential,” she told the student publication.
See more in the video below.