COMMUNICATION/AMERICAN STUDIES 150
Introduction to the Mass Media in America
Fall Quarter, 2006
Dr. Roger George
Office Hours: 11:30-12:20 daily
(425) 564 2021
Information is power, and since the time of the American Revolution, information has been considered fundamental to our freedom. Today, we have access to more information from more media than ever before. But has it made us freer? How reliable is it? We have more entertainment available than ever before, too. But what are the consequences? Are we, as Neil Postman put it, “amusing ourselves to death?”
Every day, we’re bombarded by media messages. Some maintain that we owe our very sense of what’s “normal” and “natural” to these media—that our own individual experiences and observations are overwhelmed by the images and sounds we encounter on the job, at school, even in our most private moments at home.
This course will examine the role and the history of the mass media and their impact on American culture and society. We’ll look at:
· The nature of the mass media in America and how they developed as they have
· the impact of our media upon our democratic society—particularly our entertainment, the ways we get our news, and political and corporate advertising.
· Current issues in media (recording, television & film, video games, etc.)
· the limits of the first amendment and the tension between the ideal of free, unrestricted speech and the need/desire of authorities to control the media.
· changes in ownership, changes in technology, and where all of this is taking us.
OUTCOMES: By the end of the quarter, you should be able to:
Analyze the impact of media messages on American culture, values, and political process
Demonstrate understanding of the historical and economic forces that shaped and continue to shape mass media
Explain the legal rationale for licensing and/or censoring certain media
Compare/Contrast American commercial media system with non-commercial media in U.S. and other countries
Analyze how content is shaped by the nature of particular media
Analyze the rhetoric of messages in different media
Develop visual literacy
Demonstrate critical use of various media
Use media effectively to communicate with a particular audience
Compare and contrast print, visual, audio and composite media
Richard Campbell, Christopher Martin, Bettina Fabos, Media and Culture 5.
Steve Johnson, Everything Bad Is Good For You.
Internet access is available in the library, as well as in the NWCET computer labs. We will use the Internet and other multi-media resources as part of this class.
Some books and articles may be placed on reserve in the BCC Library.
A popular “buzzword” in the media these days in “interactive.” It applies to this class as well. You are expected to be a participant, not a spectator. I want an exchange of ideas and observations, not just a lecture. To succeed in this interactive class, you will need to:
· read thoroughly and critically. This means making margin notes, using a highlighter to mark passages which seem to be important, asking questions or making comments in the margins and, of course, completing all reading by the assigned date. You may expect quizzes over the reading material throughout the quarter.
· attend class. At the Academy Awards a few years ago, director Stanley Donen said that the secret to success is “showing up.” You will not get a “B for breathing;” you will, however, fail to earn credit if you fail to attend. The Arts and Humanities Division policy is that if you miss more than one-fifth of the class (or, since this is a Tuesday-Thursday class, four class sessions), that in itself is grounds for failing the class—even if you turn in all assignments. Even if you don’t fail the class completely, your overall grade may be lowered by however much I consider to be appropriate. Much will go on in the class which simply can’t be reconstructed from somebody else’s notes or from the reading. You are expected to be in class on time; if you arrive late, you may not be credited with attendance.
· turn in assignments on time. You will be writing a number of papers and possibly doing some investigative projects. The deadlines are fixed; if you fail to turn in a paper or complete a project on time, you will receive a grade for it which is no higher than the lowest grade given to anybody who turned the paper in by the due date.
· improve your writing and reading skills. College-level reading and writing skills are expected for the highest grades; plan to use the Writing Lab to revise your papers if your writing is not at this level.
· Keep up with all reading, class discussion, and projects so that you’ll be ready for the midterm and final.
Additional Note: Essential to a liberal arts education is an open-minded tolerance for ideas and modes of expression which might conflict with one’s personal values. By being exposed to such ideas or expressions, students are not expected to endorse or adopt them but rather to understand that they are part of the free flow of information upon which higher education depends.
To this end, you may find that class requirements may include engaging certain materials, such as books, films, and art work, which may, in whole or in part, offend you. These materials are equivalent to required texts and are essential to the course content. If you decline to engage the required material by not reading, viewing, or performing material you consider offensive, you will still be required to meet class requirements in order to earn credit. This may require responding to the content of the material, and you may not be able to fully participate in required class discussions, exams, or assignments. Consult the syllabus and discuss such issues with the instructor.
Your final grade will be based upon the following:
· two short papers, each worth 15% 30%
· group project/presentation 15%
· midterm exam 15%
· final exam or extended paper 30%
· quizzes and participation 10%
These percentages or the nature of the assignments may change after discussion with the class.
READ THE POLICIES OF THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES DIVISION AT THE FOLLOWING URL: http://www.bcc.ctc.edu/artshum/policy.html THESE ARE THE POLICIES OF THIS CLASS, AND YOU WILL BE EXPECTED TO HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THEM. BE ESPECIALLY SURE TO READ THE SECTION ON “ACADEMIC HONESTY.” I HAVE A “ZERO TOLERANCE” POLICY ON PLAGIARISM.
CLASS INFORMATION, THE SYLLABUS, ASSIGNMENTS, AND USEFUL WEB LINKS WILL BE POSTED ONLINE AT: http://www.bcc.ctc.edu/artshum/materials/. I’m also producing podcasts on various topics that you can download to your computer or an MP.3 player. You can listen to or subscribe to these at:: http://macitude.academic.bcc.ctc.edu/weblog/rgeorge/
AT SOME POINT, I’m going to be setting up a class website, where I’ll post all assignments, course materials, interesting articles, and links to websites and podcasts. I may even establish a discussion page. You will be expected to use this website as part of the class.
Then just click on the class link. Be sure to check in frequently for new information and/or assignments.
IF YOU LACK INTERNET ACCESS OR SKILLS, PLEASE REQUEST A PRINTED COPY OF ANY MATERIAL PLACED ONLINE.
See the Arts and Humanities Division Policies statement. If you require accommodations based on a documented disability, have emergency medical information to share, or need assistance in case of emergency evacuation; please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.
If you would like to inquire about becoming a DSS (Disability Support Services) student please call 425-564-2498 or go in person to the DSS office in B132.
Students are encouraged to review their accommodation requirements with each instructor during the first week of the quarter.