Saint Mary's College of California is offering a course called "Pranks: Culture jamming as social activism." One of the assignments is for the students to try to get a fake news story picked up by the news media. None of the students succeeded, but the class, taught by artist Ray Beldner, still sounds like it should be a requirement at all universities (and high schools). From Contra Costa Times:
Beldner said he wanted to teach students how to bring issues to the public eye using creative methods. His course syllabus defines "culture jamming" as "a resistance movement to the perceived hegemony of popular culture."
"These are serious-minded pranks," he said. "It's not just about people goofing around."
But journalists already have their hands full sifting facts from fiction without having to worry about deliberate misinformation, said Austin Long-Scott, who teaches journalism ethics at San Francisco State University. He compared the hoax to a computer virus.
"He is teaching students to try to screw up an important system that has enough trouble getting things right," Long-Scott said. "It's a destructive thing to do, and it violates a general societal ethic."
Destructive or not, Beldner said he would not stop his students from continuing to perpetuate a fictional issue, even if it led to an incorrect news story being published.
"We'd have to cross that bridge when we got to it," he said.
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