Wednesday, January 23, 2008


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COM406A – Mass Communication and Society
Spring 2008, Wednesdays 6:00-9:30 PM
Professor Jen Heuson

This seminar examines the interrelationship between media and the current social and political environment. Class discussions focus on the attitudes and values of a medium (film, television, radio and print), the content and style of information presented through particular media, and the impact of each media upon family, religion, education and political-economic institutions. Topics to be covered are: the power of the media to change values and attitudes, reinforce stereotypes, and mold public opinion; media as a mass market tool; commercial vs. alternative media; ethics of production; censorship; media as a political tool; bias in news; and future developments in communication (cable TV, federal subsidies). A Life Arts Project is required.

Course Objectives
  1. Compare and contrast communication types, emphasizing the techniques and purposes specific to mass communications. Identify how communication systems impact society.
  2. Identify media important to information societies. Define “mass media” and outline its impact upon cultural values, political-economic institutions and social organization.
  3. Understand foundational media theories. Analyze the relationship between a medium and its message, and identify media techniques used to inform, to persuade and to entertain.
  4. Outline the primary activities of media organizations, and understand their industrial structure. Evaluate the roles of media watchdogs and regulatory agencies upon media.
  5. Investigate ethical issues relevant to mass communications and public opinion.
  6. Analyze readings, media samples and course lectures through weekly online assignments.
  7. Draft a written evaluation of a public service campaign, examining its rhetorical devices.
  8. Create a public service campaign integrating mass media and persuasion techniques.
Course Requirements
  • Students are expected to finish ALL required reading and assignments. Students will complete weekly journal assignments online at:
  • Students are expected to complete AND to present a Life Arts Project and a campaign analysis. All written work must be in proper APA style with an annotated bibliography.
  • Students are required to attend and to participate fully in every seminar. Arriving late and leaving early will count against your final participation grade.
  • Students are expected to attend all field trips, guest lectures and film screenings.
Required Text
Chomsky, N. (2002). Media control: The spectacular achievements of propaganda. (2nd ed.). New York: Seven Stories Press.

Additional Required Reading

All required articles will be available to students either online (through our course blog) or at the DC37 Campus library. For more details on required readings, please see the complete bibliography here. Articles can also be found in one of the following readers:

  • Durham, M. G. & Kellner, D. M. (Eds.). (2001). Media and cultural studies: Keyworks. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Marris, P. & Thornham, S. (Eds.). (2000). Media studies: A reader. New York: NYU Press.
  • O’Sullivan, T. & Jewkes, Y. (Eds.). (1997). The media studies reader. New York: Arnold.


Weekly Online Journals 20%, Campaign Analysis 20%, Life Arts Project 40%, Life Arts Project Presentation 10%, Class Participation/Attendance 10%
  • Late assignments will be downgraded. The LAP will not be accepted late.
  • The final presentation cannot be rescheduled. Students MUST attend to pass this class.
  • Students who miss a class will be expected to complete the reading and view material screened for that week. Students will be allowed two excused absences. Each additional absence will result in a grade reduction of one letter regardless of reason.
  • Students who do not attend field trips, guest lectures or film screenings will be counted absent. Missing such events will count toward the allotted two absences.
  • Students are expected to be in the classroom when class begins, at the top of the hour, and to stay for the entire period. Students who leave early will be counted absent.
  • The use of cellular phones is prohibited in class.


Anonymous said...

A public issue that is important to me is the issue of Retirees having to pay for prescription drugs coverage. During an individual's work life, medicare and Social Sucurity taxes are deducted from their earnings. Therefore, why upon retirement, must they make additional premium payments for health care services?

I consider the elderly population the most vulnerable individuals in our society and they should be the population that the Government exempt from further health care payments.

Upon retirement, the elderly are left to figure out how the process works. They are not informed by the Social Security Administration about the medicare process and althought there are periodic media coverage of the Medicare issue, the retirees are either misinformed or left to conduct endless research in order to make the right choices. This dilemna can hinder an elderly person who may be considering retirement but may continue working, not only from the lack of information, but also the high costs of premiums for prescription drugs.

One resolution to this issue could be that the retiree should be given an indepth interview at the Social Security Admnistration on their option and how it will affect them.

Another solution can be that all retirees should receive free full medical coverage along with free prescription drugs coverage

mass communication would be a helful tool in demonstrating to the elderly how their voices can be heard through rallys and proposals.

The elderly retirees have worked hard, paid taxes, contributed to society, so upon retirement they should not have any detrimental issues to deal with especilly lack of health care/prescription drugs coverage.
Dionne Vincent

Anonymous said...

A public issue that is important to me is the Health Care issue for the elderly and the disabled.

I think that it is a disgrace that this government has allowed the elderly or the disabled to be denied services because they do not have sufficient Health Care Coverage.

My sister became disabled about a year ago due to a heart attack. She was only 41 at the time, and she also had a weight problem. To my disbelief, she was discharged from the hospital in approximately 6 days. She was not well at all. She was trying to get into a program for obesity, but to no avail, because she did not have sufficient Health Coverage.

To date, her problem with her weight and her heart has not been resolved. She has been in and out of the hospital at least 3 times, and the water continues to back up around her heart, which caused the heart attack in the first place.

The doctor's never give her enough medication at one time,and she is constantly running out of her pills. No one seems to care. This health care system constantly targets people with menial income that rely solely on the government resources. Most times, low income people cannot afford to pay for their services, none the less their medication.

I believe that we have to stand up and fight for this to change. With the new election coming up, i listen eagerly to what may be done down the road. Please remember, that we all have to get old someday, and at this time, we don't know what the future holds for us.

Aquilla Anderson