Real-time political news: designing information flows in an online scenario

Mary Griffiths


The article describes a case study: the design and delivery of a university media course on the changing forms of communication and mediated political participation in liberal democracies. The course takes a heuristic, immersive and authentic assessment approach to professional media education. It works from the premise that participation in scenario-driven simulated public events, with students in the roles of journalists, politicians, support staff and civil society actors, deepens professional and democratic understandings about what is at stake for democracy in digital culture's acceleration of political and public communication. The role-play, set in a fictional Westminster-style democracy, occurs at a time when access to public information has broadened, and Web 2.0 technologies have impacted on the speed, transparency and accountability in journalism and political practices. The aim is to replicate the quickening flows of political information and their viral nature; and to understand significant media-political relationships; the ideologies and affiliations of opposed news institutions; and political networks' competition for influence. Course features include a theoretical preparation and writing praxis period, augmented by guest lectures from media and political representatives. Students then enter the Digital Information Flows Scenario (DIFS) in a fictional polity, Incognita, and act within their role and group affiliations, circulating and responding to texts in various formats for different readerships. What can be achieved using this approach?


media, democracy, e-SIM, authentic role-play, information flow

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