Information’s significance in warfare is evident in today’s war in Ukraine and in wars elsewhere. In these conflicts we see the manipulative lies of disinformation, the forensic journalism that relies on satellite imagery and crowd-sourced reporting, and governments’ media efforts to shape global public opinion. This colloquy will examine how information in wartime has evolved, beginning with American, British, and German media content as World War II began. We will consider how information technologies – from print to radio to television to social media – have affected the ways militaries fight wars and how publics view these conflicts. Among other matters, we will consider Russia’s use of information tools to undermine adversaries’ political systems, China’s broad information strategies, and ways that targeted populations respond to information attacks. Looking ahead, we will consider media literacy as an essential skill if we are to make sense of the flood of war-related information that sweeps over all of us.
PHILIP SEIB recently retired from the University of Southern California after 40 years of university teaching. At USC he held professorships in Journalism, Public Diplomacy, and International Relations. His academic work focuses on interactions between news media and foreign policy, with particular attention to media and war. His many books include The Al Jazeera Effect, How Terrorism Evolves, The Future of Diplomacy, and the recently published Information at War: Journalism, Disinformation, and Modern Warfare. He has a degree in Politics from Princeton University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.
The primary reading will be Information at War: Journalism, Disinformation, and Modern Warfare (Polity Press, 2021). Supplemental articles will be emailed to participants.
Living-Room War. The 20th-century evolution of wartime information.
Reading: Information at War, chapters 1, 2.
Technology’s Surge. How new media tools affect the conduct and perception of warfare.
Reading: Information at War, chapters 3, 4.
Russia’s Information Tactics. The Kremlin’s new way of war.
Reading: Information at War, chapter 5.
Where do we go from here? Ways for the public to navigate the information universe and prepare for new dimensions of information warfare.
Reading: Information at War, chapters 6, 7.
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