Mass Communication & Culture, MCOM 639 (online)
Communication Management Master’s Program
Instructor: Prof. Beth A. Haller, Ph.D.
Office phone: 410-704-2442
Office location: Van Bokkelen Hall, Room 205B
Get to know me online:
• Textual analysis, A Beginner’s Guide by Alan McKee (2003). (Individual chapters on Blackboard)
• All other readings will be provided on Blackboard or will be available as links.
• APA Style Guide, which you can access online through Cook Library: http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/citing-sources
This online course will teach students about mass communication and culture by studying media and communication content. We will look at a variety of textual analyses and qualitative content analyses of mass media, from news to popular culture to social media content. After an overview of textual analysis and qualitative content analysis techniques, the bulk of the course will be based on the students’ own interests. Students will select media or communication content to analyze and conduct their own textual or qualitative content analysis research project.
Each class week on Blackboard begins on Monday and ends on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. All due dates are in EST. The Discussion area contains forums for each week that you have readings, as well as a forum for each student-presented article. Please see the rubric on Blackboard for discussion posts. The expectation is that you will post multiple times each week, with posts about readings and prompts, as well as responses to your classmates’ posts. In this way, the forums will be interactive, rather than many unconnected posts.
Assignments & Grading:
Discussion posts/participation: 10%
Article summary/leading online discussion: 10%
Research proposal (with beginning draft of theme list): 10%
Literature review (At least 20 sources) 20%
Final research paper & its presentation online (18-24 pp.) 50%
Discussion participation (10%): Students must actively participate in the discussion boards with questions, comments and/or critiques of the assigned readings. Your discussion posts should demonstrate that you have read the assigned materials and are contributing to the online conversations by voicing your ideas and opinions. See rubric on Blackboard.
Article presentations (10%): First, you must sign up to summarize (about 500 words) and create discussion questions (5) about one research article that uses content or textual analysis as its methodology. I will provide the articles, which everyone must read. During the online discussion, you must respond to each of your classmates’ comments in the discussion forum for each article. The reason for this assignment is to see how the methodology you will be using for your final paper was applied in an academic article. Therefore, your summary should be primarily focused on explaining how the methodology was used and what the themes, findings and conclusions were.
Select one article from this list and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Selection is first come, first served and I will post once I have your selections.
Articles for discussion board presentation
Compton, J. (2006). Serious as a heart attack: Health-related content of late-night comedy television. Health Communication, Vol. 19: 2.
Merskin, E. (2007). Three Faces of Eva: Perpetuation of the Hot-Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives. Howard Journal of Communication. Vol. 18.
Fink, J. S. & Kensicki, L.J. (2002). An imperceptible difference: Visual and textual constructions of femininity in Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated for Women. Mass Communication & Society. Vol. 5:3.
Billings, A. C. et al. (2015). The art of coming out: Traditional and social media frames surrounding the NBA’s Jason Collins. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Vol. 92(1) 142–160.
Sanderson, J. (2010). Framing Tiger’s Troubles: Comparing Traditional and Social Media. International Journal of Sport Communication, 3:438-453.
Smith, L.R. & Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m Going to Instagram It! An Analysis of Athlete Self-Presentation on Instagram. Journal of 59(2), pp. 342–358.
Gerstl-Pepin, C. (2015) Popular Media Portrayals of Inequity and School Reform in The Wire and Waiting for “Superman,” Peabody Journal of Education, 90:5, 691-710.
Research Proposal (10%): The 5-7 page proposal should explain the nature of your topic, identify your research question(s), and discuss how your research contributes to existing literature. You will also detail the content/texts you will analyze and outline the relevance of that material for your project. Additionally, you should attach the beginning draft of your theme list, as well as examples of the text(s) and/or media content you plan to analyze.
Literature Review (20%): You will prepare the beginning of the 5-8 page lit review section of your paper in advance of your final paper. The lit review should have a minimum of 20 sources. These should be primarily peer-reviewed scholarly articles, as well as related articles from industry publications. Your literature review should be concise but also comprehensive. Do not simply summarize each article but take an analytical approach to discuss how the literature relates to your research project. Explain any consensus or controversy about the articles. The lit review and the final paper should be cited in APA style, as well as have a full reference list in APA style. You will drop this literature review into your final paper, after you have revised it based on my feedback. This website has additional information on lit reviews, as well as some examples: http://www8.esc.edu/esconline/across_esc/library.nsf/3cc42a422514347a8525671d0049f395/46c31e3773d8747b852570ad00700699?OpenDocument
Video on writing literature reviews for graduate students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2d7y_r65HU
Textual analysis research paper (50%): You will write a research paper that uses textual or qualitative content analysis as its methodology. In preparation for this paper, you will submit your literature review and a research proposal, which will receive separate grades but will be folded into your final paper. The media or communication topic you examine should be considered against the backdrop of related scholarship, and your research should contribute to a larger understanding of the topic. Your research and analysis should be sufficiently unique as to (potentially) make a contribution to the existing literature. This 18-25 page, double-spaced paper (in Times Roman 12 point type) should contain:
- An introductory section (not longer than 2-3 pp.) that presents your thesis (main argumentative point) and explains how this thesis will be explored through your textual or qualitative content analysis.
- A literature review section (5-8 pp.), which frames the questions/problems addressed by your paper within a larger scholarly discussion. This section should provide the reader with a context for the significance of your research project.
- Method section (2-4 pp.). Discuss how you are applying the McKee book in your paper. Explain how this methodology fits your project. Discuss how you developed your theme list.
- Findings (10-15 pp.): In this section, you should report what your analysis discovered. How do your findings support your thesis? Give examples from the content or text you analyzed as evidence of how what you found fits with themes you discovered. (Be sure to cite media content examples in your references.)
- Conclusion (about 1-2 pp): Do not simply summarize your analysis! Instead, you should draw out the significance and implications of the analysis demonstrated within the body of the paper and relate your findings to the contribution you’re making to the literature.
- References: Your paper should cite 20 or more sources you included in the final paper, including any content or text examples used in the finding and conclusion sections.
- Theme list attached.
Note: Please give your paper a title. I will create a discussion forum for your paper so you can present it on Blackboard.
You will be expected to present your paper on Blackboard and turn in your research paper on the days they are due. Any delay will result in a 5% grade deduction per each day of delay.
Final grades will be calculated on the basis of points scored in each evaluation activity. The following scale will be used:
A = 93% and above
A- = 90% – 92.9%
B+ = 87% – 89.9%
B = 83% – 86.9%
B- = 80% – 82.9%
C+ = 77% – 79.9%
C = 70% – 76.9%
D = 60% – 69.9%
F = below 60%
General Grading Criteria:
C = Your work is essentially accurate, follows most instructions, applies APA style correctly and provides relevant examples, but (1) lacks a clearly stated thesis or research questions/hypothesis, (2) lacks a comprehensive literature review, (3) is not unique and adds little to the existing literature, OR (4) does not follow the methodological structure discussed in class.
B = Your work is accurate, follows directions, is well-organized, applies APA style and has a clear thesis, research questions/hypothesis and analysis. However, your paper does not elaborate enough on why your analysis and findings are particularly interesting or important from a communication perspective.
A = In addition to the virtues of a B assignment, your work uses multiple examples from your content or textual analysis. Your projects’ analyses and your paper’s conclusions are especially compelling, insightful, and creative.
D = Your work contains many APA style, grammatical, mechanical or spelling errors; it reflects minimal effort, but there is some evidence that you have done the assigned readings.
F = Your work contains numerous APA style, grammatical, mechanical and spelling errors; it reflects minimal effort; OR there is no evidence that you have read or understood the assigned readings.
NOTE: Compliance with the guidelines of the APA style manual (most recent edition) will be included in the grading of your assignments. This includes but is not limited to cover sheet, margins, formatting, in-text and reference list citations. If you are unfamiliar with these guidelines, please familiarize yourselves with them as soon as possible.
Online Discussion Netiquette:
Note: See rubric on Blackboard
Our discussion board communication is vital in this course since it is the primary way we will connect with each other. Please be careful and considerate in all your communications with each other and the instructor.
The online medium is poor at conveying tone. Consider what you are saying and remember that your intent might not be inferred by your readers (fellow students and instructor). Take a moment to re-read everything you write: assume that it will be taken in the worst possible light. And extend courtesy to others: assume the most charitable light possible. Both of these will make communication easier and far more civil.
Use emoticons to provide the context of facial expression, when needed. A simple smile 🙂 goes a long way in telling readers that your statement is meant in a friendly way. A wink 😉 tells us you are joking about something and prevents misunderstanding.
You can also indicate emotions and gestures with text. Some people use * or :: to indicate these, such as ::smile:: or *frustrated*
If you feel angry or frustrated, give yourself time before submitting a response, possibly even overnight. If you aren’t sure how something will come across, ask someone else to read it over and give you feedback. Always re-read or preview messages in the discussion board or email before sending them.
Spelling and Grammar
Use capitalization, punctuation and properly constructed and grammatically correct sentences in the same way that you would in any other written, graduate level document. Do not use words in all UPPERCASE; that is online shouting.
Things to consider before venting electronically:
- Would I say this to this person’s face?
- Would I want someone’s parent to read this?
- Am I putting the reader in an awkward position?
- How would I feel if I got this as an email message?
The Structure of the Course: I hope this course will be a participatory, collaborative online learning experience.
Discussion Post Policy: Active participation in the weekly discussion boards is expected. Please email me if for some reason you cannot participate (hospitalization, for example).
Academic Dishonesty: Please familiarize yourself with the University policy on academic integrity by accessing the following link:
http://wwwnew.towson.edu/studentaffairs/policies/academicintegrity.asp. Several types of behaviors constitute academic dishonesty and are not acceptable. Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, which involves but is not limited to presenting other people’s words and ideas as your own, submitting essays or portions of essays written by other people as your own, improper source citation, no source citation, or using materials posted on websites without acknowledging the source. Additionally, using fictitious sources also counts as academic dishonesty. Should you behave dishonestly, you will fail the course. If you have any questions or doubts about this issue, feel free to consult with me.
Sexual Harassment: The University specifically prohibits sexual harassment in any form. Please consult the University’s policies on this issue.
Disability Statement: If you have a disability which will affect your performance in this class, please notify the Disability Support Services. Scan and email me your letter about accommodations so that I can provide them. To access the website for Disability Support Services, please go to the following link: https://www.towson.edu/dss/.
Course Schedule & Readings
Note: Discussions on reading assignments/course content materials (PowerPoints, etc.) are due on Sunday nights by midnight.
Week of Sept. 3: Overview and syllabus review
Assignments: 1.) Introduce yourself in the Introduction Forum
2.) Read these short research articles as an overview of the method you will use for your own projects in this course.
Austin, L.L. (2010). Framing diversity: A qualitative content analysis of public relations
industry publications. Public Relations Review.
Borah, P. (2009) Comparing Visual Framing in Newspapers: Hurricane Katrina versus Tsunami. Newspaper Research Journal.
Gibson, K.L. (2009). Undermining Katie Couric: The Discipline Function of the Press. Women & Language. Vol. 32, No. 1.
Week of Sept. 10: Why mass media content matters; framing theory
McKee, A. (2003). Chapter 1, What is textual analysis & Chapter 2, Does it really matter how people make sense of the world?
McKee, Alan (2001) A beginner’s guide to textual analysis. Metro Magazine, pp. 138-149.
Shoemaker, P. & Reese. S. (1996). Analyzing media content, in Mediating the Message.
Wright, C. R. (1986). Cultural content of American mass communication. Mass Communication, A sociological perspective. NY: Random House.
Week of Sept. 17: Textual/content analysis as methodology
McKee, A. (2003). Chapter 3. What’s interpretation got to do with it? & McKee, A. (2003). Chapter 4. How do I know what’s a likely interpretation?
Waters, R. D., Tindall, N. T. J. & Morton, T. S. (2010). Media catching and the journalist–public relations practitioner relationship: How social media are changing the practice of media relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3):241–264.
Week of Sept. 24: Textual Analysis – popular culture
Assignment: Two student presentations with class discussion
McKee, A. (2003). Chapter 5 & 6. Can’t we make it a bit more scientific? & Is that it?
Student present: Compton, J. (2006). Serious as a heart attack: Health-related content of late-night comedy television. Health Communication, Vol. 19: 2.
Student present: Merskin, E. (2007). Three Faces of Eva: Perpetuation of the Hot-Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives. Howard Journal of Communication. Vol. 18.
Week of Oct. 1: Textual analysis and news topics
Assignments: 1.) Email me 100-150 words on what you are considering for your research project and schedule a Skype or in-person meeting with me about the final project before March 16 break. Sign-up sheet will be posted on Blackboard.
2.) Two student presentations with class discussion
Student present: Fink, J. S. & Kensicki, L.J. (2002). An imperceptible difference: Visual and textual constructions of femininity in Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated for Women. Mass Communication & Society. Vol. 5:3.
Student present: Billings, A. C. et al. (2015). The art of coming out: Traditional and social media frames surrounding the NBA’s Jason Collins. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Vol. 92(1) 142–160.
Week of Oct. 8: Textual/content analysis – social media and PR
Assignment: 1.) Two student presentations with class discussion
2.) Email Joyce Garczynski with your project idea, email@example.com
Student present: Sanderson, J. (2010). Framing Tiger’s Troubles: Comparing Traditional and Social Media. International Journal of Sport Communication, 3:438-453.
Week of Oct. 15: Coming up with themes for textual/content analysis
Assignments: 1.) Attend one Webex meeting with librarian Joyce Garczynski. Time choices:
12-1 p.m. or 6-7 p.m. on Thurs. 3/16
4-5 p.m. on Sat. 3/18
2.) Two student presentations with class discussion
Haller, B. & Becker, A. (2014) “Stepping backwards with disability humor? The case of NY Gov. David Paterson’s representation on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Disability Studies Quarterly. http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/3459/3527
Coleman, R. & Major, L. H. (2014).Ethical Health Communication: A Content Analysis of Predominant Frames and Primes in Public Service Announcements. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 29:91–107.
Student present: Smith, L.R. & Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m Going to Instagram It! An Analysis of Athlete Self-Presentation on Instagram. Journal of 59(2), pp. 342–358.
Student present: Gerstl-Pepin, C. (2015) Popular Media Portrayals of Inequity and School Reform in The Wire and Waiting for “Superman,” Peabody Journal of Education, 90:5, 691-710.
Week of Oct. 22
Assignment: Research Proposal Due
Week of Oct. 29
Work on literature review/final research paper
Week of Nov. 5
Work on literature review/final research paper
Week of Nov. 12
Assignment: Literature Review
Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 21-25)
Week of Nov. 26
Additional Skype or in-person meetings at student’s request. All your text/content should be analyzed by now.
Week of Dec. 3
Additional Skype or in-person meetings at student’s request.
Assignment: Research paper presentations posted on Blackboard
~Students will have four days to read and post responses to each others’ 300-500 word summary of their final paper. The final paper need not be complete and won’t be turned in until Dec. 14, the last class. If you want to create a Powerpoint instead of a summary, that it is acceptable.
Assignment: Final textual or qualitative content analysis paper due
“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.”
College of Fine Arts and Communication
Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
Towson, MD 21252
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: All Students in the Department Of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
FROM: Department Faculty
SUBJECT: PLAGIARISM AND CHEATING
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: ANY STUDENT CAUGHT CHEATING ON ANY QUIZ OR EXAM WILL RECEIVE A MINIMUM OF AN “F” ON THE QUIZ OR TEST AND A MAXIMUM OF AN “F” FOR THE COURSE.
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.
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.