How should journalists, the news media and informed citizens handle certain unusual and unconventional topics?
To try to find the answers, internationally-known and award-winning investigative journalist George Knapp will be teaching a journalism course at the College of Southern Nevada beginning in January.
The course, “Reporting from the Twilight Zone,” will explore many elements involved in subjects that may be sensitive or secret, complex, strange, and at times, frightening.
Journalism students and professionals as well as the general public are welcome to take the course.
Knapp plans to include examinations of the roles of reporters, editors, news organizations, other media professionals as well as media consumers when it comes to topics such as alleged conspiracies, cover-ups and other unusual areas such as UFOs.
Is there peer pressure in the newsroom? Do elements of government shape coverage of certain topics, conspiracies and cover-ups? Do media owners and advertisers affect reporting on sensitive, unconventional or special topics? Are these kinds of subjects also exploited at times by and in the media? What are the current trends on this kind of journalism?
The class will tackle these and other important questions.
MODERN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
According to the course description, Knapp, students and guests “will examine the techniques and standards of modern investigative journalism as applied to ‘fringe’ topics and will identify key approaches taken by various media to the exploration and/or exploitation of controversial subjects.”
The course description also notes, “Another objective will be to question whether journalism standards for covering ‘fringe’ subjects are (or should be) different from other types of reporting. The course will explore these issues from many different perspectives, and will receive input from professional journalists, academic researchers, scientists, and skeptics.”
“The course will encourage critical thinking skills for both journalists and news consumers in evaluating the quality and accuracy of the news and information we see, and don’t see.”
We might also ask: How do journalists cover topics on which there may be a lack of solid facts, yet persuasive sources, indicators or circumstantial evidence? How do citizens draw reasonable conclusions and understanding from a wide range of journalistic reports and other sources and media platforms?
In a Dec. 3 column he wrote for “Las Vegas City Life,” Knapp also noted that the course is being sponsored by Bigelow Aerospace, based in Las Vegas. Knapp pointed out that the company’s founder, Robert “Bob” Bigelow, has “a lifelong interest” in subjects related to unconventional topics such as UFOs. In addition, Bigelow will provide funding for guest speakers and lecturers to contribute to the course, Knapp wrote.
Are these kinds of topics worthy of news coverage or even a college class? Knapp raises this issue in his “Las Vegas City Life” column. Some people may not think so. Knapp says students, media professionals and the public should make up their own minds and maintain a critical and careful perspective.
FRINGE OR FUNDAMENTAL
But are courses and media coverage of certain topics really so unconventional?
Most so-called “fringe” topics actually deal with sociology, psychology, American and world history, anthropology, government, national defense and intelligence matters, various scientific disciplines and even spiritual beliefs.
And what kinds of subjects are we really talking about? Some have been part of the record of human experience throughout history. These might include social or economic manipulations, political assassinations, deceptive “false flag” attacks and secret activities of various kinds.
Other topics delve into the metaphysical such as life after death and afterlife concepts, extrasensory perception (ESP), higher human consciousness, ideas about multiple dimensions, intelligent life elsewhere, UFOs, synchronicity (meaningful “coincidences”) and the nature of a higher intelligence. Are these kinds of subjects “paranormal” or simply normal?
Are some of these topics really “fringe?” Or, are they fundamental and tremendously important for human education, development and even survival? Are they actually very important for American society and the human race as a whole?
For example, are ESP and “remote viewing” really “anomalous cognition” (unusual perception)? Maybe they are really just additional and natural kinds of human perception.
Are all conspiracy theories simply irrational rumors?
Can increased understanding about human history, human behavior, human nature, human potential and the how the Universe (or “multiverse”) works move us forward toward a brighter future?