This course examines mass media from varying perspectives – social, psychological, political, economic, and cultural – and gives students the intellectual tools to engage and critically interpret and consume mass media. We focus on the role of the media in limiting, creating, and shaping political power. We will look at how the media covers politics and political actors, who stands as a gatekeeper to determine which events, issues, and individuals get coverage, and how they are covered. We will also explore the basic concepts of political psychology and discuss how they intersect with the political messages people receive on a daily basis. We will ask tough questions about the media’s role: how well does the media serve us as a watchdog and conduit of information, what are the limits of media influence, and how can media help make institutions more effective in a democratic system.