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MCH8018 : Journalism and Celebrity

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Bethany Usher
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Journalism and Celebrity develops critical understanding of these two intertwining cultures and their significance in shaping how we understand ourselves, the way we live our lives and how we perform our identity for others. It considers celebrity and celebritised journalism and processes of celebrification in relation to socio-cultural, political, economic and media transformations, organised around four central themes: “Foundations”; "Stardoms"; “Broadcast”; and “Networked”.

This module uses a theoretical framework and methodologies drawn not only from journalism, media and cultural studies, but also from studies of history, literature, sociology, and digital communications to demonstrate both the potentials and dangers of celebrity and celebritised journalism as mechanisms for constructing both self-identity and reality. It allows students to foster their own independent research skills - focused on an area of celebrity and/or journalism culture of their choice - in order to demonstrate relationships between these fields and how they relate to displays of self-identity and persona construction for strategic goals.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus of this module may include the following.

Overview: The development of journalism and celebrity cultures and constructs; celebrification and celebritisation; consumerism; national identity; attack journalism; public spheres; politics and campaigning; populist/quality binaries; the development of the interview; early persona construction; journalists as celebrities.

Overview: Celebrity journalism in response to "stars"; journalism and pop music; sound, vision and political “stars”.

Overview: The development of parasocial relationships; chat-shows and the reformed journalistic interview; money, the culture industries and promotion; public/private selves; tabloidisation; multimedia persona construction; celebrity and political persona.

Overview: The development of networked self-identity; the branded self; microcelebrity; constructed reality; maintained and transformed journalistic production patterns; political spectacle; post-digital image display and photojournalism; authenticity; authority; journalists as celebrities in the digital age.

Students also examine and analyse the effective gathering and display of data, discourse and research methodologies throughout their learning.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Present-in-person lecture. Can take place online if necessary.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion751:0075:00Essay planning and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Non-synchronous lecture materials
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials112:0022:00Readings, screenings and archive work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Present-in-person seminars. Can take place online if necessary.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study701:0070:00Interactive learning materials, documentaries, readings and analysis work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time51:005:00Online seminar
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods work cohesively to build competencies and skills in research, critical analysis, articulation of key concepts and ideas and the ability to generate independent research.

Weeks 1-9
Students are introduced to a range of key theories and concepts through a serious of lectures, which demonstrate application to historical and current developments in the field (Learning Outcomes K1; S1).
Discussion of appropriate research methodologies and the effective display and analysis of data and discourse are a key component to lectures and lecture materials, which offer critical analysis of relationships as demonstrated in independent analysis of the media (K6; S2; S4).
The lecture series is complemented by one-hour small-group seminars, between which students undertake directed and/or student-led and independent study. This includes watching online screenings, engagement with set readings, exploration of archives and digital media amongst other directed tasks (K2; K4; S3; S4).

Weeks 8/9:
Following the first period of learning activity, students work towards their own independent research, designing their own essay title in negotiation with the module leader. Through effective engagement with on-line seminar tasks and submission of formatively assessed research planning documentation, students develop their own essay title and research study which is approved by academic staff following a discussion in small groups (K1; K4; K6). Students are then assigned into small groups based on their individual topic of interest for interactive discussion (K6).

Weeks 9-11:
Through small-group seminars and tutorials and making use of scheduled drop-in hours students are supported to judge reliability and significance of evidence in order to articulate and apply primary and secondary research and form conclusions, in order to effectively complete a research-based essay. (K3; K5 S5)

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1004000-word independent research-based essay
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MResearch essay-planning document
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment strategy for Journalism and Celebrity is a 4,000-word research essay.

Students produce a research-based essay, which demonstrates critical engagement of the fields of celebrity and journalism studies and effective skills in independent research. They engage in self-initiated study to develop a title, research question and methodology and are supported to do so through the formative essay-planning documentation written exercise.
The size and scope of the research essay is appropriate to both assess theoretical understanding and students' ability to independently design and conduct their own independent research. The research-based essay fosters independent learning.
In order to ensure they are fully supported to produce assessment that allows them to reach the Learning Outcomes for the task, the students are provided with the following specific assessment criteria linked directly to Learning Outcomes. Both formative and summative feedback is provided to the student directly against these criteria, ensuring clarity between learning outcomes, assessment and marking.

Additional task specific assessment criteria are as follows:
• Evidence of a theoretically and analytically rigorous definition of the topic, informed by engagement with and understanding of appropriate primary and secondary research; (K1; K3; K5; S1)
• Application of research to appropriate example or examples; (K2; K3; K6; S3; S4)
• Analysis of examples using research methods encountered while studying celebrity culture in order to make meaningful conclusions; (S2; S3)
• Coherence and written structure of the research essay, including appropriate display of analysis and original research (K5; S5)

Reading Lists