Argumentation in the Media
Argumentation is a discursive activity aimed at solving differences of opinion by presenting reasons. In an ideal argumentative context issues are solved reasonably, relying on “the unforced force of the better argument” (Habermas). The ability to craft effective and sound arguments and to critically assess arguments as they appear in the current media ecology are critical skills for media professionals.
The course covers the fundamentals of argument analysis, evaluation and production providing a complete logico-rhetorical “survival kit” for media professionals in the age of social media platforms, algorithmic mediation of communication and generative AI.
The quality of argument is examined under the 5 criteria of freedom, responsibility, acceptability, relevance and sufficiency. Rhetorical effectiveness and the compatibility of rhetorical strategies with reasonableness are also discussed and exemplified.
Stock-issues are introduced as a method of argument analysis and production and applied to deliberative debate design, fact-checking of hard news, as well as to trust repair in the context of an organizational crisis.
Practical methods for mapping complex argumentative discussions are introduced with the support of an argument visualization software (OVA3) and applied to an original case study.
- Reflect on the importance of argumentation for media professionals as a means of persuasion, decision making and critical scrutiny of information, as well as an essential component of good “deliberative dialogue” in the public sphere.
- Learn how to recognize and analyze arguments in opinion articles, press conferences, interviews, hard news and social media posts.
- Learn how to argue in written form in the age of Generative AI tools. Use ChatGPT to generate an opinion piece taking the opposing view to a target article and criticizing its arguments. Critically evaluate and rewrite the AI generated article.
- Learn how to design an argument, react to opposing arguments and deliver an oral presentation by participating in a debate simulation.
- Examine how journalists shape public debate and contribute to public accountability through their question design in interviews and press conferences.
- Understand how social media changed debate in the public sphere and the challenges and opportunities they pose to reasonable public debate.
- Use argumentation as a resource to detect and counter misinformation, disinformation, extreme bias, polarization and manipulation in media content.
- Examine argumentation as a resource for decision-making in the newsroom in relation to gate-keeping processes
- Examine argumentation as an organizational resource for trust- recovery for organizations in the networked public sphere.
Apart from attending to traditional lectures, during the course the students will be asked to (1) generate an argumentative text with generative AI, evaluate it and rewrite it, (2) to prepare and to participate in a debate simulation on an assigned topic, (3) to develop their own case study of argumentative analysis.
During the course, the students are requested to consistently participate in the above mentioned in-course activities (1, 2 and 3) and submit in-course work in a timely manner.
In-course activities 1 and 2 will amount to 30% of the grade. The score will reflect both the level of participation and the quality of the output.
A final oral exam will assign the remaining 70% of the grade. The oral exam will consist of two components:
A) a presentation of a case study of argumentative discussion in the current networked public sphere (activity 3).
B) an interview on the concepts and cases discussed in the course.
The two components of the exam have equal weight.