Friday, January 10, 2014

[313] Students examine free press, free country in spring 2014 MTSU course

MURFREESBORO — With former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden continuing to expose government secrets piecemeal, an MTSU professor’s upcoming spring 2014 journalism course is more timely than ever.

Dr. Larry Burriss will teach “Mass Media and National Security” each Tuesday and Thursday from 2:40 to 4:05 p.m. when MTSU’s spring 2014 semester begins Thursday, Jan. 16.

“There were lots of courses in media and in national security, but there wasn’t a course like this one anywhere in the country when I created it in 2005,” said Burriss.

Initially, Burriss said, the course will explore the historic tension between the media and the government, dating back to when “Common Sense” pamphleteer Thomas Paine was fired from his job with the Continental Congress for leaking secret documents to the press.

Then Burriss and the class will examine how the government and media interact on national security and the legal issues resulting from that sometimes adversarial relationship.

“In particular, this is part of the legacy of the Vietnam War,” Burriss said, recalling that “the media’s reporting on the Tet Offensive and the Pentagon Papers case revealed that the government had been lying about our progress in Vietnam.”

Burriss also said he’ll have some “personal war stories” to tell from his days as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard along with his career as a journalist and journalism professor.

Finally, students will dive into the “alphabet soup” of government agencies with roles in national security and how reporters and public affairs officers perform their respective jobs.

“We have fun when we engage the students in role-playing exercises, sometimes bringing in an officer from Fort Campbell to work with them,” said Burriss.

“Mass Media and National Security” is listed in the MTSU catalog as “Journalism 4700” and will be taught in Room 151 of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building.

For more information, contact Burriss at or call the Department of Journalism office at 615-898-2814.

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