Course Syllabus
  • Texts
  • Assignments
  • Policies

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  • International Comm.
  • Alternative Media
  • Community Radio
  • Ethnography & Journ.
  • Internet Reporting
  • Web Publishing
  • La telenovela
  • Labor organizing--Mexico
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  • COMM 1301-Mass Media
    Dr. Robert Huesca

    Professor Huesca in class.     Course Description. This class will provide you with an introduction to: a) a theoretical framework for thinking about our current and future mass media system; b) some of the prominent communication theories used to understand the social functions and impact of mass media; and c) the contentious, practical issues facing news, entertainment, and advertising practitioners.
        The perspective adopted in the class is one of analyzing mass media as primarily an industrial force that shapes and is shaped by social, cultural, political, and economic structures. Lectures will not be a reiteration of material presented in the book, but there will be ample time for clarification and discussion of difficult issues from the reading as warranted by student concerns.

    Required Text
  • Turow, J. (1997). Media systems in society (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.
  • Reserve Reading
  • Alexander, A. & Hanson, J. (eds.). (1997). Taking sides: Clashing views on controversial issues in mass media and society (5th ed.). Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.
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        Grades will be computed as follows:
    1. Three exams (70%)
    2. One small-group presentation/paper (10%)
    3. Media content analysis (20%)

    A brief description of each assignment is included below. In-depth descriptions of the assignment requirements will be given later in the semester.

    1. Exams. Three exams combining short definition/identification and short essays will be given on dates indicated in the class schedule. They are not cumulative. Material will be drawn from both readings and lectures. Exams 1 and 2 are worth 20 percent each of the final grade; the final exam is worth 30 percent of the final grade.
    2. Small-group presentation/paper. Students will be assigned to small groups on the second day of class. Each group will organize an oral presentation of an issue presented in Alexander & Hanson (1997). Individual members will prepare a written summary of the issue. A more complete description of this assignment will be handed out separately.
    3. Content analysis. Each small group will monitor television news programming produced at a local station for one week. Individual reports analyzing news content will be written and the group will provide a briefing of major findings to the class. A more complete description of this assignment will be handed out separately.

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        Policies are as follows.

    1. Attendance (read carefully). Regular attendance is expected. Two absences are allowed without penalty and should be used like "sick leave." After two absences, students will be penalized 1 point off their final grade (which is based on 100 points) in the class for each day missed. The only exceptions to this are excused absences for university business, which must be documented in writing prior to the absence. Students experiencing serious illnesses or family emergencies should either drop the course or speak with the professor, as these situations do not constitute exemptions from the attendance policy. Persistent lateness will be counted as absences. Anyone missing the equivalent of three weeks or more of class will automatically fail the course.
    2. Grades. The criteria for assigning letter grades is as follows: A‹outstanding, exceeds basic requirements and is particularly insightful, creative, or otherwise indicative of exceptional care, labor, and thoughtfulness in preparation; B‹excellent, exceeds basic requirements and is particularly well crafted and documented; C‹satisfies basic requirements of the assignment; D‹poor, falls short of meeting the basic requirements of the assignment; F‹fails to fulfill most basic requirements of assignment.
    3. Written assignments. Papers are due at the beginning of class. Late assignments (regardless of the reason) will be penalized a third of a letter grade for each day late--including weekends. If late work is turned into my office mailbox, it should be date stamped by the department office and done at the student's risk should it get lost. All work should be typed (or computer printout), double-spaced, and stapled in the upper left hand corner (no plastic spines or covers). First page must include name of course and professor, your name, and title. All other pages must be numbered. Attention should be paid to both form (grammar, spelling, punctuation, appearance) and content (clarity, organization, relevance). Please print papers in 12-point Times font.
    4. Exams. No early exams given. Check exam dates now to avoid conflicts with travel plans. Late exams given in cases of documented medical emergencies only.
    5. Oral presentation. Groups should be prepared and practiced in their oral reports. This means the report should not be rambling, disorganized, or merely read word for word. Rather, the presentation is expected to be creative and not merely a panel-style discussion. Your group should plan an engaging performance--not to exceed 30 minutes--that is appropriate to the topic you are presenting. The presentation should be followed by a class discussion lead by the group. Oral presentations will be graded on the criteria of completeness, organization, creativity, and quality of class discussion.
    6. Readings. Students should have the readings completed on the date assigned in the class schedule. Discussions of the textbook will be based on student initiative, so bring questions to class.
    7. Academic integrity. Students are expected to be familiar with the definitions of academic integrity outlined on pages 1 and 2 of the Student handbook, particularly the section on plagiarism. Any violations of academic integrity will be dealt with as outlined in the student handbook.
    8. Office hours. Feel free to drop in during office hours, however, please use the sign-up sheet posted on the bulletin board outside of the office to guarantee a meeting time.

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