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 America’s pluralistic, democratic society and influence its historic evolution. The course enhances the student’s 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        Yes

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 Institutions—Democratic Institutions

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 nature of

the development of the mass media in American society. The course also provides an overview

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 government in

democratic and pluralistic society. The course enhances the student’s 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.

Course Outcomes

Courses that fulfill the Democratic Institutions requirement must meet at least five of the following

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.

                                        This 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.
                                    The mass media in America are both influenced by these conditions and have an
                                    influence over them. Mass communication via the media is both a mechanism for
                                    reflecting the status of problems and conditions in our democracy, but the media
                                    are also critical to distilling attitudes and opinions related to the improvement of
                                    the conditions and solutions to societal problems. Active citizenship, and an
                                    effective democracy, are dependent on an effective media. The course is
                                    designed to enhance the student’s ability to participate in the free exchange of
                                    ideas and function as a public-minded citizen.

Objective C: Identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic institutions.

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 of their

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 ideas.

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 citizenship—on the part of the media institutions, professionals involved in them, and consumers of media products—is 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.

MCOM100 The Mass Media and Society

Fall Term 2001
Somsen Auditorium
6-8:30 p.m.

 

Instructor: Prof. John N. Weis

Office: Phelps 113-D Office Hours As Posted

Contact: jweis@winona.edu

457-5232

University This course fulfills the course requirements for a three (3)-semester-hours

Studies Universities Studies course in the area of Democratic Institutions

Web Sites: www.wsuprof.com or www.prguru.org

Blackboard An online virtual classroom has been established to supplement the traditional

Supplemental setting using the WSU Blackboard system. Supplemental materials, grade

Resources information and some assignments will be found at www/blackboard.com/courses/MC100f01/

 

Text: Vivian, J. (2000). The mass media and society. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

                    Description: This survey course provides an overview of the historical, evolutionary and
                    continuing nature of the development of the mass media in American society.
                    The course also provides an overview 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 government in democratic and pluralistic society. The course enhances the
                    student’s 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.

Grading: The course will consist of quizzes (75 percent of final grade) and a comprehensive Final Exam (25 percent). This schedule and the course schedule itself are tentative and will be adjusted to meet the educational needs of each specific class.

Students who are absent must inform the course assistant ahead of time. There is no provision for makeup quizzes or exams if the course assistant has not been notified ahead of time.

The grade scale is:

A = 90 and above

B = 80 and above

C = 70 and above

D = 60 and above

F = 59 and below

 

Outcomes: Objective A: Understand the principles upon which democratic governments

are based.

Objective B: Understand the problems of democracy and the conditions that

favor or disfavor it.

Objective C: Identify, state, and justify value judgments related to democratic

institutions.

Objective D: Understand the nature of non-democratic institutions.

Objective E: Understand the implications of taking responsibility for the

consequences of their own actions for democratic institutions.

Objective F: Understand the relation of equal rights to democratic institutions.

Objective G: Understand the need to exercise responsibility for the expression

of their ideas.

Tentative Schedule

Session

Course Content

1

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.

2

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.

3

Chapters 4. The history and evolution of newspapers, critical element in American society and cultural development from turn-of-the-century immigrants to today’s 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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

Chapter 7. Radio as a societal influence. History and evolution. Radio as a source of entertainment and news. The network concept. Radio’s demassification in response to television. Talk radio and American democratic society today. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on B, D and F.

7

Chapter 8, 9. Television, American’s dominant medium. History and evolution. Television’s 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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.

12

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 transmission…and transition. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on C, F and G.

13

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.

14

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.

15

Chapter 19, A discussion of ethics and the mass media. Moral principles vs. competitive factors and the public’s right to know. Moral relativism. Citizenship and the media. Changes in societal mores as an influence on the media; media influence on society’s standards of morals and ethics. Addresses all outcomes with special emphasis on A, B, D, E and G.
  Final Examination