Approved by Faculty Senate.
University Studies Proposal
Department Mass Communication
Course Number MCOM100
Number of Credits Three (3)
Frequency of Offering Each Semester
Course Title The Mass Media and Society
Catalog Description This survey course provides an overview of the interrelationships
between the mass media and American society. Students learn about the mix of media that
both reflect Americas pluralistic, democratic society and influence its historic
evolution. The course enhances the students ability to more effectively participate
as a citizen and in the free exchange of ideas and information critical to its operation.
This is an existing course Previously approved by A2C2
This is a new course proposal No
This course is a current General
Education course Yes
University Studies approval is requested in Contemporary Citizenship OR Democratic
Department Contact Prof. John N. Weis
Email Address jweis @winona.edu
General Course and Proposal Information
This survey course provides an overview of the historical, evolutionary and continuing
the development of the mass media in American society. The course also provides an
of the communication process and the value of critical thinking, historical
perspectives and civic
and governmental institutions and processes. The course provides students with a basic
understanding of concepts of the interrelationships between the mass media and our
society in terms of social justice, the common good, and the legitimate scope of
democratic and pluralistic society. The course enhances the students ability to
participate in the
free exchange of ideas and function as a public-minded citizen. The media, government,
community and society are examined on the local, state and national levels.
Courses that fulfill the Democratic Institutions requirement must meet at least five of
outcomes. The specific objectives for University Studies, Democratic Institutions, and
an explanation of how the Media and Society course fulfills them, follows:
Objective A: Understand the principles upon which democratic governments are based.
course discusses the evolution of the mass media in American society in the
context of the development of the country and its democratic institutions themselves.
The rights and responsibilities of the media are both the product of the evolution of
American democracy and an influence upon it. The course emphasizes this interrelationship.
An understanding of the historical context of both the media and our democratic government
are critical to the course.
Objective B: Understand the problems of democracy
and the conditions that favor or disfavor it.
mass media in America are both influenced by these conditions and have an
over them. Mass communication via the media is both a mechanism for
the status of problems and conditions in our democracy, but the media
also critical to distilling attitudes and opinions related to the improvement of
conditions and solutions to societal problems. Active citizenship, and an
democracy, are dependent on an effective media. The course is
to enhance the students ability to participate in the free exchange of
and function as a public-minded citizen.
Objective C: Identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic
The mass media both reflect upon and influence American democratic institutions. But,
as importantly, the media are American democratic institutions. This course helps students
identify and understand the values and ethics involved in and necessary to effective mass
communication via the media while at the same time recognizing the media as a means of
evaluating and monitoring the values and ethics of the other democratic institutions in
our society as well.
Objective D: Understand the nature of non-democratic institutions.
Mass Media and Society examines America in its broadest context, including that of
non-democratic institutions. The course examines the role of the media from the
perspective of society as a whole. It requires an understanding of the interrelationships
between institutions throughout our society.
Objective E: Understand the implications of taking responsibility for the consequences
own actions for democratic institutions.
Emphasis on the need for ethics, accountability and responsibility in the mass media is
significant in this course. The rights of the media, under the First Amendment to the
Constitution and because of evolutionary development throughout our history, are
significant. As a result, the responsibilities which must be brought to bear are also
significant. But the media, in turn, have assumed the role of examining the other
democratic institutions to ensure that their activities are ethical and responsible. This
objective is specifically addressed during the examination of each of the mass media
throughout this course.
Objective F: Understand the relation of equal rights to democratic institutions; and/or
This course teaches that equal rights are foundational to the mass media in American
society. Effective mass communication requires this perspective, but, again, the media
themselves have the responsibility to monitor the status of equal rights in other American
democratic institutions on an ongoing basis. The citizenry learn of the importance of
equality in a democratic society through the free exchange of ideas via the media and, in
turn, involve themselves in seeking fulfillment of that democratic principle through the
use of the mass media directly.
Objective G: Understand the need to exercise responsibility for the expression of their
The concept of resultant responsibilities in response to broad rights is a major area
of emphasis in this examination of the interrelationship between American democratic
society and the mass media. The course emphasizes the rights and responsibilities of the
media and of citizens involved in our society in the free exchange of ideas via the mass
media. The importance of citizenshipon the part of the media institutions,
professionals involved in them, and consumers of media productsis stressed
throughout the course.
As required in the course proposal documentation, the following is the syllabus for
MCOM100, The Mass Media and Society. This outline identifies the course as a University
Studies course, also as required for such proposals. The relevant expected outcomes,
consistent with the objectives for a University Studies course in the area of Democratic
Institutions are indicated.
|Chapters 1, 14. The mass media,
an overview. Definition. Historical significance. The Constitution and First Amendment.
Hot and cool media, elitist and populist viewpoints. American culture and the media. The
mass communication process and models. The exchange of ideas in a democratic society. The
citizenry and the mass media. The participants in communication. Addresses all outcomes
with special emphasis on A, B, D, F.
|Chapters 2, 3. Books from
Gutenberg to electronic books. Magazines, from their contribution to nationhood to
demassification after the advent of television. History and evolution. Review of
democratic institutions and their relationship to books. Media as a reflection of society
and as an influence on it. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, F and G.
|Chapters 4. The history and
evolution of newspapers, critical element in American society and cultural development
from turn-of-the-century immigrants to todays suburbanites. Constitution and
government influence and historical perspective. A medium threatened by "new
media." Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, B and C.
|Chapter 5. Recordings as a social
force in nation-building, and role in integration and the civil rights movement. Media
battles over censorship, legal and social. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on
C, G, F and E.
|Chapter 6. Motion pictures as
historical social unifier.
American democracy and film: reflection and influence. History and evolution. Movies as a
reflection of society while a major influence on that same society. Movies and the
struggle with television. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on C, G, F and E.
|Chapter 7. Radio as a societal
influence. History and evolution. Radio as a source of entertainment and news. The network
concept. Radios demassification in response to television. Talk radio and American
democratic society today. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on B, D and F.
|Chapter 8, 9. Television,
Americans dominant medium. History and evolution. Televisions tremendous
influence on all other mass media. Demassification. Television and the emerging "new
media represented today by the web. The Internet and World Wide Web, the eighth mass
medium in America. TV and democracy. An informed citizenry? Addresses all outcomes with
special emphasis on B, C, E, F and G.
|Chapter 10. Journalism as a mass
communication profession utilizing the mass media. History and evolution. The Constitution
and the First Amendment. The exchange of ideas. Watchdog of democracy. From advocacy, to
unbiased reporting to increasing advocacy. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on
A, B, F and G.
|Chapter 11. Public relations as a
mass communication profession utilizing the mass media. History and evolution. Service to
a democratic society provided. Media relations. Battle of a profession to combat the image
of "spin." Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on C, G. and E.
|Chapter 12. Advertising as a mass
communication profession utilizing the mass media. History and evolution. A driving
economic force behind the development of all mass media and an equally important force in
American democratic societal development. A changing role in new media. Addresses all
outcomes with special emphasis on C, E and G.
|Chapter 13. The importance of
media research in identifying and responding to public opinion and in developing messages
to shape it. Measuring media effectiveness in our democracy. The views of the people. The
continuing story of the interrelationship between the media and society, each having an
effect on the other. Understanding human behavior in the context of the media and society
and in meeting consumer wants and needs. Understanding the media needs of the citizenry.
Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on C, F and G.
|Chapter 15, 16. The effects of
the mass media on American democratic society. Uses and gratification theory. Media role
in socialization. Violence in the media and the now identified relationship. Agenda
setting by the media and its influence on American citizens attitudes and actions.
The influence of the media on our culture and other cultures. Social stability. Cultural
and transition. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on C, F and
|Chapter 17. The role of the mass
media in governance. An informed electorate? Authoritarian vs. libertarian systems.
Freedom and responsibility. Media influences on voters. Media and government
interrelationships. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, B and F.
|Chapter 18. Mass media and the
law. U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, rights and responsibilities. Slander and
libel, privacy issues, obscenity and pornography, copyright. Equal access issues.
Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, B, D, F and G.
|Chapter 19, A discussion of
ethics and the mass media. Moral principles vs. competitive factors and the publics
right to know. Moral relativism. Citizenship and the media. Changes in societal mores as
an influence on the media; media influence on societys standards of morals and
ethics. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, B, D, E and G.