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JOUR 390-0

Journalism and the Networked World

Spring 2009
Rich Gordon Noshir Contractor
1870 Campus Drive Tech D241
(847) 467-5968 (847) 491-3669
richgor@northwestern.edu nosh@northwestern.edu

Classes meet Thursdays from 2-5 p.m. in McCormick-Tribune 3107

The practice of journalism has historically assumed one-way content delivery via a media
product or package such as a newspaper, magazine or broadcast. With digital technology,
however, both one-way delivery and the concept of a media product are diminishing in
importance. Displacing them are two key developments: (1) hyperlinked online content, which
creates an entirely different way for people to find and discover digital content; and (2) the
multiway communication capabilities made possible by technologies such as weblogs, discussion
boards and social networks. Both of these developments can be best understood through an
understanding of the science of networks. This interdisciplinary course will explore the
connections among networks, media and journalism -- orienting its students to network-based
frameworks and helping them them to understand and thrive in a digital, interactive world. It will
be taught by Rich Gordon (Medill), a pioneer in digital journalism who has studied online
interpersonal and link networks, and Noshir Contractor (McCormick, Communication and
Kellogg), an expert on the art and science of social network analysis.

You will:
1. See networks everywhere
2. Understand the relevance of networks to: journalism, journalists, media companies and
organizations, and audiences
3. See the connection between networks and audience aggregation. Why does some content
gets found by a lot of people and others not at all? Attention to media is driven by
networks - perhaps more so true today.
4. Advise individuals and organizations how to better leverage their networks.

Course Requirements
Participation and preparation are essential to success in this course. Attendance is required at
every lecture. All students will be expected to have completed the assigned weekly readings
before class and be prepared to discuss the readings in depth. In addition, there will be required
mid-week assignments that synthesize topics from the previous lecture with additional required
readings. Finally, students will be expected to actively participate in the online Google Reader
and FriendFeed component by making weekly contributions.
Absences are only excused for medical, athletic, or academic reasons with a note from a doctor,
coach, advisor, or faculty member. Assignments or participation missed for other reasons cannot
be turned in or made up at a later date.

Lecture readings – POPULATE

Follow-up readings – POPULATE
Online participation – POPULATE
Final paper – POPULATE

The course requirements will be graded as follows:
• Midterm exam 25%
• Final paper 40%
• Google Reader/FriendFeed contributions 15%
• Participation & engagement 20%

Course Readings
Students are required to purchase:
• Barabasi, A. (2003) Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What
It Means.

Most readings will be posted on the Blackboard website for downloading. Any reading that
cannot be acquired electronically (e.g., Easley & Kleinberg) will be distributed in hard copy
during lecture.

Staff & Office Hours

Professor Gordon will hold regular office hours on XYZ/ office hours by appointment. Professor
Contractor will hold regular office hours on XYZ/office hours by appointment. Brian Keegan
will be the teaching assistant for the course and will hold regular office hours on XYZ in Francis
Searle Room 2-168.

Students with Disabilities

If you require appropriate academic accommodations as a result of any disability, please make
any requests during the first week of the quarter. You are urged to register with Services for
Students with Disabilities (SSD) for disability verification and for determination of reasonable
academic accommodations. For more information, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/disability/.

Academic Integrity
Students are expected to comply with University regulations regarding academic integrity.
Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on an exam (e.g., copying others’
answers, providing information to others, using a crib sheet) and plagiarism on a paper (e.g.,
taking material from readings without citation, copying another student’s paper. In particular,
please note that “submission of substantially identical work for credit in more than one course
without prior permission of the instructor(s) is defined as cheating and is subject to penalties.
Failure to maintain academic integrity on an assignment will result in loss of credit for that
assignment – at a minimum. Other penalties also may apply. If you are in doubt about what
constitutes academic dishonesty, speak with either faculty member before an assignment is due,
or examine the appropriate University websites. Guidelines for determining academic integrity
and procedures followed in a suspected incident of academic dishonesty are detailed on the
following website:
Class schedule

Network concepts
Lecture readings Follow-up readings Assignment Optional
April 2: Linked: Chapters 1-5 Monge & Contractor (2003) - 29-44 Network analysis survey of Watts, D. (2004) The
Introduction to (Ch. 2) class "New" Science of
Social Networks Networks. Annual Review
Borgatti, S., Mehra, A., Brass, D., of Sociology. 30: 243-70
Labianca, G. (2009) Network
Analysis in the Social Sciences. Kleinberg & Easley (2009)
Science Chapter 1
April 9: Kleinberg & Easley: Chapters 2-3 danah boyd, "Why Youth (Heart) Network analysis of Facebook
Social Networks Social Network Sites: The Role of (Nexus or Touchgraph)
online and offline Malcolm Gladwell, "Six Degrees of Networked Publics in Teenage
Lois Weisberg" Social Life":

danah boyd and Nicole Ellison, How Facebook is Taking Over Our
"Social Network Sites: Definition, Lives"
History, and Scholarship,"
April 16: Barabasi, Linked, Chaps. 6-8 Tipsheet 2053 Midterm concept list (due Hanneman/Riddle book -
Networks in the April 19 by 5pm) campaign contributions
news & Monge & Contractor Chapter 10 Tipsheet 2364
journalism Burt/structural holes -
Valdis Krebs, "Uncloaking Terrorist Tipsheet 1987 networks and power

Washington Post "Bush Pioneers"


Washington Post "soft money"

Networks and Media
Lecture readings Follow-up readings Assignment Optional
April 23: MIDTERM EXAM (first half of Easley/Kleinberg, pp. 413-435 Markus, "Toward a
Diffusion of class) 'Critical Mass' Theory of
media Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Interactive Media"
innovations Barabasi, Linked, Chaps. 9-10 (44 Innovations, Chap. 6: "Attributes of
pgs) - chap 9 could be optional Innovations and their Rate of danah boyd case study:
Adoption" Friendster and MySpace
Rosen, The Anatomy of Buzz,
chaps. 1-5 (77 pgs)

April 30: Barabasi, Linked, Chaps. 11-12 Niles, "How, and where, to Brian Stelter, New York
Audience hyperlink within a news story", OJR Times, "Mainstream News
aggregation Easley & Kleinberg, pp. 271-299 Outlets Start Linking to
through links: the Niles, "Don't Forget the Value of Other Sites"
hyperlinked Web Mark Tremayne, "News Sites as Hyperlinking", OJR
Gated Cybercommunities" Karp, "Reinventing
Gordon, "How News Sites Might Journalism On The Web:
Case study: "Huckleberries Online" Build Networks" Links As News, Links As
blog at the Spokane Spokesman- Reporting"
Review Jeff Jarvis, "New rule: Cover what
you do best. Link to the rest" Park & Thelwall,
Case study: "Networked link “Hyperlink Analysis of the
journalism: a revolution quietly World Wide Web: A
begins in Washington state" Review”

May 7: Barabasi, Linked, Chap. 13 (20 pgs) Gladwell, “The Formula” NetLogo assignment?
networks, Rosen, The Anatomy of Buzz, Watts, “Is Justin Timberlake a
information Chaps. 6-9 Product of Cumulative Advantage?”
propagation, and
viral marketing Turow, Niche Envy, pp.1-16 & Thompson, “Is the Tipping Point
Chap. 2 Toast?”
Networks and Society
Lecture readings Follow-up readings Assignment Optional
May 14: Barabasi, Linked, Chap. 14 MMC research on media Postman, "Amusing
Social media as a experiences Ourselves to Death"
shortcut Cass Sunstein, "Polarization and
Cybercascades," Tom Hayes, Jump Point
"The Attention Wars"
James, W. (1950). The
Hargittai Principles of Psychology.
Chapter 11

Thorngate, W. (1988). On
Paying Attention.

Lanham, R. (1994) The

Economics of Attention.
May 21: Putnam, Robert D. "Bowling Alone
Social capital in - America's Declining Social
online and offline Capital"
Pew Internet & American Life
Project, "The Strength of Internet

Wellman,"Physical Place and

Cyberplace: The Rise of
Personalized Networking"

Kavanaugh, Patterson, “The Impact

of Community Computer Networks
on Social Capital and Community
May 28: Barabasi, Linked, Chaps. 15-16 Zanini, "Using 'Power Curves' to
Power laws, Assess Industry Dynamics,"
blockbusters, and Anderson, The Long Tail, Chapter 8
the long tail Hindman, "A Mile Wide and an Inch
Shirky, "Power Laws, Weblogs and Deep: Measuring Media Diversity
Inequality," Online and Offline"
Elberse, "Should You Invest in the
Long Tail?"
June 4: Katz, "The two-step flow of Trippi, The Revolution Will Not Be Kelley, "Price of Place:
Networks and communication: an up-to-date report Televised Mainstream Media and the
politics of an hypothesis." Networked Public Sphere"
Carr, NY Times, "How Obama
Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, Tapped Into Social Networks’
Chap. 7 Power"

Hindman, "'Googlearchy':The Link Stelter, NY Times, "The Facebooker

Structure of Political Web Sites" Who Friended Obama"

Tremayne et al., "Issue Publics on Miller, "How Obama's Internet

the Web: Applying Network Theory Campaign Changed Politics"
to the War Blogosphere"

Adamic and Glance, "The Political

Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S.
Election: Divided They Blog"