Masters in Political Communication strengthens its internationalization process

The easy access and use of virtual tools have allowed the Social Communication - Journalism Masters in Political Communication program to provide spaces strengthening its internationalization process and include prominent professors from Spain, Mexico, and Chile in its masterclasses.

On June 12 and 13, 2020, through the Zoom platform, the Masters in Political Communication organized an agenda including talks by international teachers for their students.

On this occasion, the researchers were Sebastián Valenzuela, associate professor at the Communications Faculty of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; Teresa Correa, professor at the Faculty of Communications of the Diego Portales University of Chile; Homero Gil de Zúñiga, professor and director of the Innovation and Media Laboratory at the University of Vienna, Austria, and professor at the University of Salamanca, and Carlos Muñiz, professor and researcher at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Faculty of Political Science and International Relations.

During the talks, the international professors shared their knowledge on political communication, digital inclusion, online news utilization, and political participation.

First day: PhD Teresa Correa and PhD Sebastián Valenzuela

In the first session, Professor Teresa Correa, PhD in Communication from the University of Texas, in Austin, spoke on mobile digital inclusion and how the type of access and digital skills relate to online uses and ‘viralization.’

In her conference, the researcher stated that “public policy decisions, in terms of digital inclusion, affect the types of political use and participation, information, and disinformation, as well as the ‘viralization’ of false news and disinformation. The world is betting on access to mobile broadband, and not just fixed, as a way to bridge digital gaps. However, when there is a significant focus on connecting different populations with this kind of band, most new users with lower educational levels access only through the phone. This type of access has consequences and can open a new form of material inequity, which some authors call degrees of sub-connection. That is to say, how we relate to technology defines the ‘viralization’ of information and false news.”

In the second hour, Sebastián Valenzuela, PhD in Political Communication and Digital Media from the University of Texas, in Austin, spoke on “From optimism to pessimism? Social networks and citizenship, with special emphasis on Chile.” The researcher made a historical account of the different views given on information, political expressions, and activism in scientific literature.

“Sometimes, a position viewing networks as pro-democracy tools is taken. Other times, we have analyzed the opposite view as negative tools because they perpetuate inequalities and can be manipulated for democratic purposes. I believe there is a kind of schizophrenia surrounding scientific literature. We have gone through different stages and times, pessimistic and optimistic.” says Valenzuela.

Second day: PhD Homero Gil De Zúñiga and PhD Carlos Muñiz

On the second day, Homero Gil de Zúñiga, PhD in Political Science from the European University of Madrid, and PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, presented the result of his research on the effects of digital social networks and users’ perception in the face of news utilization. “Increasingly, users use social media to consume news and keep up to date with what is happening in their surroundings. Likewise, we have found positive effects in terms of mobilization; that is, activism has been created that works in a certain way,” states Gil de Zúñiga.

On the political debate on the media, the researcher says, “social media has provided us with a forum for political discussion with people who think differently and who we do not know very well, and that dialogue has a positive effect on the theory of democratic deliberation.” Regarding his participation in the event, the Spanish researcher expressed: “I am very pleased to teach in this Masters program, several years ago I had the opportunity to attend in Bogotá, and I remember it as an extraordinary visit.”

For his part, Carlos Muñiz, PhD in Communication from the University of Salamanca, closed the day with the talk “Informational consumption in the face of the crisis. Effect of media consumption in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico.” The researcher revealed figures from his research regarding the perception of fear in crisis situations and the feeling of risk in the face of an adverse event with tragic consequences.

With this talks agenda and the inclusion of international experts in remote classes, the Social Communication – Journalism Masters in Political Communication strengthens its objective of providing a global and broad vision of the changing landscape of Political Communication in the world. It allows its students to manage and analyze connections between the new media, citizens, and political practice in the current context.