Course Syllabus
  • Texts
  • Assignments
  • Policies
  • Weekly Readings

  • Course summaries
  • Mass Media
  • International Comm.
  • Community Radio
  • Ethnography & Journ.
  • Internet Reporting
  • Web Publishing
  • La telenovela
  • Labor organizing--Mexico
  • Hypertext
  • Education
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • COMM 2325-Alternative Media
    Dr. Robert Huesca

    Professor Huesca in class.
        Course Description. The purpose of this course is to: a) provide students with historical and conceptual frameworks for thinking about "alternative media"; b) introduce students to numerous exemplars and practitioners in this field; and c) give hands-on experience with specific alternative media projects.
        Alternative media are defined most broadly as those media practices falling outside the mainstreams of corporate communication. This definition encompasses a wide range of experiences that makes the study of alternative media complex and interesting. Because of this wide range of experiences, however, alternative media, as a category, will appear confusing and at times contradictory. For this reason we must develop some theoretical sophistication to help us make sense of this field. In addition to examining different ways of thinking about alternative media, we will compare different theoretic frameworks with various exemplars and with our own projects, which will explicitly attempt to put alternative media theory into practice.

  • Harding, T. (1997). The video activist handbook. London: Pluto Press.

  • Other readings compiled in a packet must be photocopied in their entirety by the second day of class. Students who are unable to photocopy the reading packet should drop the course. See weekly reading list for order of readings.

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  • Assignments
        Grades will be computed as follows:
    1. Midterm exam (30%)
    2. News comparison and analysis (15%)
    3. Anti-commercial (15%)
    4. Final video production (30%)
    5. Final paper (10%)

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

    1. Midterm. Take-home exam.
    2. News comparison and analysis. Each student will select a topic/event and compare the reporting of it in an alternative and mainstream media source.
    3. Anti-commercial. Production groups must create a 30-second spot that satirizes or politicizes an issue or commodity. These short pieces are meant to demonstrate technical proficiency and editorial creativity.
    4. Final video production. Production groups must conceptualize, plan, and execute an alternative video as the final project in the class.
    5. Final paper. Individual students will write a single-spaced paper (3 pages maximum) that describes and explains their group video using theoretical concepts from part one of the course.

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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. Work is 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 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. Exam. The midterm questions will be handed out on Thursday and will be due on the following Tuesday. The exam will require 6-8 hours to complete.
    5. Readings. Students should have the readings completed on the date assigned in the class schedule. The course will be conducted as a seminar requiring active and regular participation in discussions of the readings.
    6. 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.
    7. 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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    Weekly Readings
    Week 1

  • Enzensberger, H. M. (1970) Constituents of a theory of the media. New Left Review, 60, 13-36.
  • Brecht, B. (1979). Radio as a means of communication: A talk of the function of radio. In. Mattelart, A. & Siegelaub, S. (Eds.), Communication and class struggle: 2. Liberation, socialism (pp. 169-171). New York: International General.

    Week 2

  • Keane, J. (1991). Liberty of the press. In J. Keane, The media and democracy, (pp. 1-50). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Nieves, E. (1999). Ever a voice of protest, radio KPFA is at it again, but with a twist. New York Times, June 30, A12.
  • Cockburn, A. (1999). Rebellion at Pacifica. The Nation, April 26, 8.

    Week 3

  • Bruck, P. A., and Raboy, M. (1989). The challenge of democratic communication. In M. Raboy & P. A. Bruck (eds.), Communication for and against democracy, (pp. 3-16). Montreal: Black Rose Books.
  • Berrigan, F. J. (1979). Community communications: The role of community media in development, (pp. 18-27). Paris: Unesco.
  • Lewis, P. M. (1984). Media for people in cities: A study of community media in the urban context, (pp. 1-10). Paris: Unesco.

    Week 4

  • Steiner, L. (1992). The history and structure of women's alternative media. In Rakow, L. F. (Ed.), Women making meaning: New feminist directions in communication (pp. 121-143). New York: Routledge.
  • Zald, A. E., and Whitaker, C. S. (1993). The underground press of the Vietnam era: An annotated bibliography. In. Wachsberger, K. (Ed.), Voices from the underground, Vol. 2 (pp. 1-3). Tempe, AZ: Mica Press.
  • Haines, H. W.. (1993). Soldiers agains the war in Vietnam: The story of Aboveground. In. Wachsberger, K. (Ed.), Voices from the underground, Vol. 1 (pp. 181-198). Tempe, AZ: Mica Press.

    Week 5

  • Aufderheide, P. (1991). Public television and the public sphere. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 8, 168-183.
  • Ouelette, L. (1995). Will the revolution be televised? Camcorders, activism, and alternative television in the 1990s. In P. d'Agostino & D. Tafler (Eds.), Transmission: Toward a post-television culture (pp. 165-187). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Week 6

  • Shamberg, M., and Raindance Corporation. (1971). Guerilla television, (pp. 1-37). New York: Rinehart and Winston.
  • Halleck, D. D. (1987). Paper Tiger Television: Smashing the myths of the information industry. In Paper Tiger Television re-presents the media: A multimedia installation (art exhibit catalogue) (pp. 5-7). Mahwah, NJ: Ramapo College.

    Week 7

  • Garnham, N. (1990). The myths of video: A disciplinary reminder. In N. Garnham, Capitalism and communication: Global culture and the economics of information, (pp. 64-69). London: Sage.
  • Protz, M. (1991). Distinguishing between "alternative" and "participatory" models of video production. In N. Thede & A. Ambrosi, (eds.), Video the changing world, (pp. 31-39). Montreal: Black Rose Books.

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