Honors Intro to Mass Communication, MCOM 102

Fall 2016

Honors Introduction to Mass Communication, MCOM 102
2-3:15 p.m., TTH, Stephens Hall, Room 306
Instructor: Prof. Beth Haller
Phone: 410-704-2442
Office: Van Bokkelen 205B
E-mail: bhaller@towson.edu

Office Hours:
3:30-4:45 p.m. TTH and by appointment. Feel free to send me E-mail messages at any time with questions about the class.

Course prerequisites:
None, except previous admission into the Towson University Honors College.

Course description:
Analysis of the theories, processes, and norms within mass communication fields.

Course objectives:
1. To gain understanding of mass communication and its processes.
2. To become aware of the effects of mass media upon society.
3. To understand the theoretical underpinnings and ethical standards within mass media fields.
4. To enhance media literacy.
5. To learn about the norms and practices within mass media fields.

Textbooks/Supplies (Required):
Media & Culture: Introduction to Mass Communication by Richard Campbell, et al. (10th edition)
The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone (Norton, 2011). Gladstone on PBS NewsHour.

The New York Times newspaper, (which are available free in the Media Center foyer and on the first floor of Van Bokkelen.). Here’s a Web site with a list of other campus locations:

Note: All papers should use the American Psychological Association (APA) style. For examples of types of APA references, visit             http://www.apastyle.org/learn/index.aspx?tab=2.

Course format:
The class will be primarily lecture and discussion. Students should prepare for each class by doing the readings assigned. We will also do some in-class media analysis work and group projects.

Exam Number 1: 20 percent
Exam Number 2: 20 percent
Exam Number 3: 20 percent
Research paper: 15 percent
Group project presentation: 5 percent
Media use/effect paper: 10 percent
Current events quizzes/In-class assignments/attendance/class participation: 10 percent

Grading criteria for written assignments and course in general:
(Whenever written assignments are given, I expect you all to produce the best written work of which you are capable.)

90 – 100 (“A” & “A-“) On the written assignments, this means the paper is clear, organized coherently, and well-written. It is an effective discussion of the topic. It has no spelling, grammar, format, or accuracy errors. In terms of the course, this means you have almost perfect attendance, scores in this range on the tests, and have good questions and discussion in class.

80 – 89 (“B+”, “B” & “B-“) On the written assignments, the paper is cohesive and well-organized, although it may have some minor spelling or grammatical errors. The discussion covers almost all of the important information and follows proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have good attendance, scores in this range on the tests, and have good questions and discussion in class.

70 – 79 (“C+” & “C”) On the written assignments, the paper is disorganized and contains many minor errors. The discussion missed some pertinent information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have poor attendance, scored in this range on the tests, and have not participated in class discussions.

60 – 69 (“D”) On the written assignments, the paper ineffectively discusses the topic; it is not coherent or understandable. It contains an unacceptable number of spelling, grammar errors and/or inaccurate information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests, and have not participated in class discussions. Students may receive upper level elective credit with a D, but this course will not count among MCOM credits.

Below 60 (“F”)* The paper contains major factual error(s) related to the topic. The information presented is completely incorrect. The paper does not meet the requirements in page length, focus, or format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests, and have not participated in class discussions. If you are caught cheating in any way, you will automatically receive an F in the course. If you attend the final exam and your average is below 60, you will receive F rather than an FX.

(“FX”)* This is an administrative failure for non-attendance or failure to withdraw. If you do not withdraw from the course by Towson’s preset deadlines for the semester and stop attending the class, this is the grade you will receive.

(“I”) Incomplete. At Towson University, students may only receive an Incomplete with “verifiable circumstances” and “where students have completed most of the term” (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog). I recommend a medical withdrawal over an incomplete. In many years of teaching, I have had only one student finish an Incomplete.

* If you receive an F or FX, you may only repeat the course once. After repeating the course, students will only receive credit for the course once and the highest of the grades will be calculated. The lower grade will remain on the transcript with an “R” before it to indicate the course was repeated. For the transcript to reflect the repeated course, students MUST submit a Repeated Course Form to the Records Office. Transcript adjustments are NOT automatic (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog).

Guidelines for all assignments
* No late papers will be accepted after the last day of the semester’s classes.
* Any late papers will lose points for each day they are late.
* Do not plagiarize, fabricate, or submit work you have done for another class. Cite all sources in your paper correctly. If you cut and paste material from the Internet without quote marks or a citation, that is plagiarism. If you paraphrase another’s material, make sure to properly cite the source.
Academic Dishonesty:
I do not tolerate plagiarism or fabrication of any kind. You should adhere to the University’s policy on cheating and plagiarism. If you are caught breaking this policy, you will be prosecuted to the full extent that the policy allows. You should adhere to the highest possible standards of ethical behavior for this class.
* All assignments must be typed in the form requested and should contain your name, the date, and the assignment topic in the upper left-hand corner. (No folders or binders are necessary for assignments. Just staple the pages together.)
* Proofread and correctly edit your papers!

If you regularly contribute to discussions, you receive 90-100 points for the 10% participation part of the grade. If you moderately contribute, you receive 70-89 points. And if you never or rarely contribute or have numerous absences, you will receive a 69 or below. Prolonged serious illnesses or hospitalization will be considered individually.

Students with Disabilities:
If you are registered with Disability Support Services, please see your instructor during the first two weeks of class to arrange your specific accommodations. If you believe you may need accommodation and have not registered with DSS, please do so by calling ext. 410-704-2638. Website: http://www.towson.edu/dss/

Student Athletes:
You must have a letter from the coach explaining your place on the team and a schedule of any away games or competitions during the semester. You must take any tests and prepare any assignments that conflict with this schedule before the test or due date, not after.


The 3 exams will contain objective questions, short answer, and essay questions about the books and other readings, as well as from in-class lectures and videos.(Research shows that tests are good for your brain, so think of these as a good thing. 🙂 NY Times story about the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/how-tests-make-us-smarter.html.

Current events quizzes:
For one month of the semester, you will be required to read the daily New York Times and will be tested for four Tuesdays on the previous week’s top news (M-F). All the quiz material will come from the previous week’s front pages (and possibly those stories’ jumps). Each quiz will have 10 open-ended questions. Note: Free New York Times are available in the Media Center foyer and on the first floor of Van Bokkelen.

Media use/effect paper:
You will recount your personal mass media use history and give examples of any effects it has had upon you. The paper should include sections on your preschool media use, your elementary school media use, your middle school media use, your high school media use, and your current media use. Each section should discuss your favorite media and why they are, how you used the media, and any effects from the media. For example, if you were a fan of a TV show about high school-aged teens, discuss the show and what you enjoyed about it and what effect it may have had on your perception of what high school would be like. Other examples of media effects might simply be remembering something you purchased after seeing it advertised in your favorite magazine or remembering that you learned Spanish words from “Sesame Street.” Finally, discuss how and why you fit into the demographic that the media were targeted toward. (Some Internet research on your favorite media will help with this.) Note: Please be honest. I don’t make any judgments on what people enjoy.
Length of paper: about 1,500 words. Reference requirements: A comprehensive reference list of at least 10 articles, books, media websites or other materials you used.

Media Issue Research paper:
Each student will analyze one of four media topics that are covered by the book, The Influencing Machine. In your paper, you will relate other articles or materials that are connected to the topic, as well as critical commentary on the media issue as found in mass media trade publications. Students also should explain how their own personal views influence their response to the media topic. The paper should synthesize all perspectives on the media issue and then discuss the student’s personal understanding/reaction/opinion of the issue. Length of paper: 2000-2500 words.
Group project: Groups of students will be working on the same media topic and will make a presentation about the topic. They will discuss their topic in a presentation to the class, giving various perspectives on the topic.

(Schedule changes will be announced in class.)
(Readings are for the week and should be read before attending class.)

Aug. 30: Campbell, Chap. 1 critical approach

Sept. 1:

Sept. 6: Campbell, Chap. 1&2 critical approach; Internet/digital media; The Influencing Machine, pp. 1-34
Sept. 8:

Sept. 13: Campbell, Chap. 16, Freedom of Expression and Legal Issues; The Influencing Machine, pp. 35-59
Sept. 15: Media Issue Research groups assigned

Sept. 20: Campbell, Chap. 15, Media Effects; The Influencing Machine, pp. 60-95
Sept. 22

Sept. 27: Campbell, Chap. 14, Values, Ethics & Democracy; The Influencing Machine, pp. 96-128; Start reading The New York Times
Sept. 29

Oct. 4: Campbell, Chap. 8, Newspapers; Page One DVD 1st half; NY Times Current Events Quiz
Oct. 6: Page One DVD 2nd half

Oct. 11: Campbell, Chap. 9, Magazines; The Influencing Machine, pp. 129-158; NY Times Current Events Quiz
Oct. 13: Exam 1, Chapters 1-2, 15-16

Oct. 18: Campbell, Chap. 5, Radio; NY Times Current Events Quiz
Oct. 20: No class; work on media use/effect paper

Oct. 25: Campbell, Chap. 6, TV & Cable; NY Times Current Events Quiz
Oct. 27:

Nov. 1: Campbell, Chap. 7, Movies (Nov. 7 is the last day to withdraw from the course with a W.)
Nov. 3: Media use/effect paper due

Nov. 8: Campbell, Chap. 11-12, Advertising, PR
Nov. 10

Nov. 15: Exam 2, Chapters 5, 8-9, 14
Nov. 17: Campbell, Chap. 11-12, Advertising, PR; Campbell, 13, Media Economics

Nov. 22-25: No class; work on group projects & Thanksgiving week

Nov. 29: No class: work on group projects & final media issue paper
Dec. 1: Media issue group projects presented

Dec. 6: Media issue group projects presented
Dec. 8: Media issue group projects presented

Dec. 13: Media issue group projects presented; All Media Issue research papers due today.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 8-10 a.m.: Final exam: Chapters 6-7, 11-13; The Influencing Machine,  https://www.towson.edu/registrar/calendars/exams.html

Earning a college degree is an endeavor that is preparing you for a future in a professional workplace. I expect you to display those qualities of professionalism in my classroom. Here are some policies and behaviors that I require you to follow:

• You will show respect to your fellow classmates and your professor. You will not belittle or laugh at others’ ideas or dominate discussions. The professor may eject you from class for any inappropriate or disruptive behavior.

• You will not interrupt or disrupt the class. This means all cell phones will be turned off during class. AND NO TEXTING! If you eat or drink during class, you will do so quietly and will always clean up after yourself by throwing away your trash. Leaving class to get food or beverage is a disruption. Only the restroom or an illness is an acceptable reason to leave the class. If you have a legitimate reason for leaving class early, please tell your professor before class and sit near the door.

• You will be counted absent if you are more than 15 minutes late for class. You will be counted absent if you sleep in class, or leave class and don’t return.

• If you bring a laptop to class, it should only be used for taking notes. You will be counted absent for that class if I find you surfing the Internet, Facebooking, etc.

• You are allowed only 3 unexcused absences. After that, you must bring in documentation, i.e. a signed doctor’s note or a signed health center note. However, please DO NOT attend class if you are contagious; we do not want your illness. In the case of car or traffic-related absences, you must bring a car repair bill or towing bill. (Not being able to find a place to park on Towson’s campus is NOT an excused absence.) In the case of a death-related absence, please call or email before you attend the funeral and give me the name of the deceased. The key to an excused absence is proper documentation.

• Any UMS-recognized religious holiday is an excused absence, and the work missed can be made up. However, please inform your professor that you will be out of class and arrange to get the make-up work. Please obtain any missed notes from a fellow classmate.

• Work-related or internship-related absences are NOT excused. Do not sign up for a class that conflicts with your work/internship schedule, or if you do not have the free time to complete required outside class assignments.

• It is your responsibility to make up any missed work due to an absence. Please get to know your classmates and ask them first. The professor will discuss make-up work before or after class or during office hours, not during class time.

• You, not the professor, are responsible for your grade. If you do not complete an assignment, you will receive a zero.

• Do not attend class if you have been drinking or taking illegal drugs. If you do so, the campus police will be called and you will be asked to leave class.

• Never lie, cheat, plagiarize, or fabricate. A mature person asks for help, rather than taking these unethical “shortcuts.” If your professor cannot give you the help you need, then she will refer you to the numerous on-campus resources, such as tutoring services or the Writing Center. If the class is still too difficult for you, become self aware enough to understand when or if you should drop or withdraw from the class. There is no shame in withdrawing from a class and taking it another semester.

• Respect yourself enough to try your best, and the professor will respect you, too.

Liability Statement
“In all assignments, students must comply with all laws and legal rights of others (e.g., copyright, obscenity, privacy and defamation) and with all Towson policies (e.g. academic dishonesty). Towson University is not liable or responsible for the content of any student assignments, regardless of where they are posted.”

Civility Code Introduction
Revised (approved by COFAC College Council 11/8/2011)

All College of Fine Arts & Communication Studies students, staff, and faculty are committed to collegial and academic citizenship demonstrating high standards of humane, ethical, professional, and civil behavior in all interactions.

We must take responsibility for the relationship between our personal conduct and the quality of campus life. What we do and say always has an effect on others, whether we see it or not. Civility means more than respecting campus facilities and grounds. Civility means consistently treating people with consideration and respect. It means being courteous, polite, and fair. It means recognizing diversity and honoring differing points of view. When our behavior is guided by concern for others in our community, we are being civil. Practicing civility requires thoughtful behavior and checking our assumptions and perceptions of others’ race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, abilities, culture, belief systems and economic status.

Civility Code
COFAC places a priority on learning. We value the inherent worth and dignity of every person, thereby fostering a community of mutual respect. Students have the right to a learning environment free of disruptive behaviors. Faculty have the right to define appropriate behavioral expectations in the classroom and expect students to abide by them. Faculty have the responsibility to manage and address classroom disruption. Staff have the right and responsibility to define appropriate behaviors necessary to conduct any university activity free of disruption or obstruction.

We believe that in order to achieve these ideals, all COFAC students, staff, and faculty are expected to exhibit and practice civil behaviors that exemplify: (1) respecting faculty, staff, fellow students, guests, and all university property, policies, rules and regulations; (2) taking responsibility for one’s choices, actions and comments; (3) delivering correspondence – whether verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic – with respectful language using professional writing standards and etiquette; and (4) accepting consequences of one’s choices and actions.

The use of threatening or abusive language, writing, or behavior will not be tolerated and can lead to academic dismissal. Further information about civility can be found in Appendix F of the university catalog.

College of Fine Arts and Communication
Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
Towson, MD 21252

TO: All Students in the Department Of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
FROM: Department Faculty

The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies adheres to the following policy regarding plagiarism:

1. Any words or images taken directly from another source (including the Internet) must be footnoted or cited and in quotation marks. Similarly, in oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
2. Any ideas derived from a source not in the public domain or of general knowledge must be clearly attributed.
3. Any paraphrased material must be footnoted or cited. In oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
4. All papers and presentations must be the student’s own work. Submission of papers or presentations authored by others, even with their consent, constitutes plagiarism.

Any student found plagiarizing in any of the above ways will receive an automatic “F” for the assignment and may receive an “F” for the course. Documented evidence of the plagiarism will be kept in the department office, and will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs.
Any student discovered soliciting others to write a paper, speech, test, or other assignment for that student will receive an automatic “F” for the course.

There are ambiguities in concepts of plagiarism. Faculty will be available for consultation regarding any confusion a student may have.

Most students are careful to avoid blatant plagiarism, the unacknowledged copying of exact words of the source. However, students must also be aware that the concept of plagiarism extends not only to wording but to patterns or sequences of ideas. If you paraphrase without acknowledgement, using the same sequence or structure as the original author, then you are plagiarizing.

Students have the right to appeal a charge of plagiarism. An appeal starts with the chairperson of the department.

The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies has adopted the following policy regarding cheating:



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