Journalism 190 syllabus -- sample




Tim A. Pilgrim, PhD

Western Washington University
Office: Communications Facility 265
Class meets: M-F, 9 - 9:50 a.m. AW 210
650-3253
tpilgrim@hope.journ.wwu.edu
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8 a.m. and Tuesday 10 a.m. or by appointment
Web page: http://hope.journ.wwu.edu/tpilgrim

Pilgrim urges students NOT to use Internet Explorer to view J190 pages (use Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox).

No need to print the syllabus -- it's always online. If needed, students should print the calendar at the top of Pilgrim's J190 page. The calendar has all important dates and grading information.


Any email sent to Pilgrim should have J190 in the subject line so that the message won't be mistakenly sent to spam prison.


Required books and readings:
Ben Bagdikian, "The New Media Monopoly" 7th ed. only
Neil Postman, "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Disclosure in the Age of Show Business" (20th Anniversary Edition)

Highly recommended books (on 2-hour reserve in Wilson Library):
Robert W. McChesney, "The Political Economy of Media: Enduring issues, emerging dilemmas" (2008)
Robert W. McChesney, "Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights" (2011)

Other recommended books and readings:
Robert W. McChesney, "The Death and Life of American Journalism; Julia T. Wood's "Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture" (9th edition); Kristina Borjesson's "Into the Buzzsaw; leading journalists expose the myth of a free press"; Naomi Klein, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" and "No Logo (10th anniversary edition) and Michael Parenti's "Democracy for the Few" (9th edition)

NOTE: The price J190 students pay for required material is substantially lower than typical mass media texts. Students interested in a comprehensive mass media textbook should consider "Media/Impact" by Shirley Biagi (available from Amazon.com and other online sources).

Recommended reading in mass media:
Students should read widely from the J190 online democracy resource list provided and from a variety of magazines (including online magazines), such as Harpers, Time, Z, Utne Reader, Mother Jones, The Nation, New Republic, WWU's Klipsun and Planet, along with newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times, The Herald (Everett), Bellingham Herald, Cascadia Weekly -- and Seattle-area online news sites, such as Invetigatewest.org, Seattlepi.com and crosscut.com.

Web material
Available for J190 students on Pilgrim's website are this J190 syllabus, summaries along with important points to study in the texts, Pilgrim lecture outlines, summaries of outside readings, summaries of some of the videos viewed during the quarter and important concepts and information to watch for and note during class videos. On the website, Pilgrim has also provided sample exam material, announcements, assignments and a discussion area where students are required to discuss media issues.
Note: Except for exams, NO PAPER COPIES OF CLASS MATERIAL WILL BE HANDED OUT.

J190 students must use this Web page often to obtain class materials, prepare for note-taking during videos and prepare for exams.

Each student will be assigned to an online discussion group and must participate several times in online discussion to fulfill one class requirement.

NO cell phones, smart phones, tablets, iPods, etc. in class, and NO texting, tweeting, Facebooking. Please turn all devices OFF when class begins. Computers may be used ONLY for taking notes during lectures -- but NOT during VIDEOS. STUDENTS using COMPUTERS or TABLETS MUST sit in the BACK THREE ROWS.

And, of course, no cheating of any kind (see the penalties in the WWU catalog (the penalty for video sign-in fraud is 100 points).



Course description:

Welcome to Introduction to Mass Media! The catalog description for this course tells you it is designed to introduce basic issues and problems facing journalists and the public as recipients of mass media messages in national and international society; the nature, theory and effects of communication; media systems, structure and support; world news flow; media controls; and First Amendment rights, as well as ethical considerations.

Material from lectures, videos and the J190 Website are aimed at helping students develop critical thinking skills regarding media and mass communication.

The course is not a course cheering section for mass media. Instead, it focuses on the ownership patterns (structure) of media (mainstream media are owned mostly by huge corporations) and explores the resulting impact on society, culture and the self-governing process. And, an important aspect of that focus is occasionally to look back (Pilgrim says we can't know where we're going unless we know where we've been) -- so students should be accepting and understanding of the older videos sprinkled into the course.

During the quarter, J190 will examine the impact of mass media in the United States on society, culture and democratic society but will touch on other systems in the world too.

Diversity -- including race, gender and "isms" -- and the relationship to media and media content are also an important part of the J190 exploration (and are woven together in the first several weeks of class).



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Specifically, the course will 1) examine major forms of mass communication (newspapers, magazines, TV, movies, etc.) in their social contexts; 2) discuss media's societal roles and how well different media play these roles; 3) examine some ways mass media intersect with and influence other important institutions; and 4) explore the impact of media on society and culture.

The relationship of democracy and media (how well media do their job of providing adequate information and knowledge so that citizens may govern themselves effectively) is also a crucial element of the J190 examination of media.

J190 has three primary objectives:

1) Students should learn to understand and identify the workings, structure, dimensions, key concepts and theories of American mass media.

2) Students should learn to analyze the various media messages and their portrayal of people, events, issues and ideas, especially in light of those people, institutions and corporations producing, controlling and influencing media messages.

3) Students should begin to develop an ability to evaluate the structure, interests, motivations and content of mass media, and evaluate their impact on society, culture and the political process, especially regarding whether media provide citizens with all relevant information so that they may govern themselves effectively.

The hope for J190, therefore, is that class members will begin to understand the impact media institutions have on society and them and begin to gain media literacy -- and leave the class with a more critical understanding of media structure, workings and impact. Of course, in the best of all worlds, such knowledge will be used to make a difference in students' own lives -- and in society.

We will follow the schedule below for the most part, but because we are dealing with the here and now of media, Pilgrim reserves the right to change directions (with fair warning to students) if other important media issues arise. Also, students should bring news stories pertaining to media they find relevant to the focus of the class.

Many videos (usually around 27) will be shown in class and will comprise the entire class period or be sandwiched around mini-lectures. Many of the videos shown are from the Media Education Foundation -- go to http://mediaed.org to see more about this media literacy clearinghouse. Also, J190 may have an occasional guest media professional.

Videos shown are of equal importance to class readings and lectures. A number of the videos are older -- but still relevant -- and Pilgrim requires students to take notes on and think about important concepts and assertions (he will beg on his knees in class that students not judge harshly or underestimate these videos).

All exams include much material from the videos used in class. All the videos are on reserve at Wilson Library and can be re-viewed there.

Outlines of class lectures and min-lectures are posted for each week of class and should be used as guides for taking notes in class.

Students should be prepared short-essay questions, which make up part of the first two exams -- these questions ask students to demonstrate understanding of concepts and analysis and evaluation of them as they relate to media and the primary J190 objectives and themes. The questions can come from any of the material presented in class or viewed.

Students are asked to expand and monitor their media intake and evaluate and discuss it. They should be willing to participate. They are urged to, at appropriate times, ask relevant questions or make thoughtful observations but not to be the only voice in discussions.

The class is large, and in-class discussion needs to be orderly. Pilgrim PREFERS students who are courteous to others, who are tolerant of a WIDE RANGE of ideas and opinion and who do not disrupt the learning of others.

Also, Pilgrim has a HEARING DISABILITY, so please, if students who must talk during class are asked to move to the hallway for private discussion, which also interrupts the learning of those seated nearby in the lecture hall.

Any quarter when serious amounts of snow falls, students are urged not to take risks getting to class in spite of the ongoing announcement from Western that the "university remains open." Pilgrim will work out makeups on a case-by-case basis. If the day in question is an exam day, makeup exams will be at his office at 7:30 a.m. the following Monday.

Also, for exams please turn off your cell phones, palm pilots, blackberries, iPods, etc. -- no computing or texting allowed.

By using laptops in class during regular sessions, students are pledging they are using them ONLY to access class material being projected in class or to take notes -- not to Skype, twitter, text, surf the Web or do e-mail or play games. NO LAPTOP USE DURING VIDEOS. Because of the distraction of the monitors, students using laptops should sit in the BACK TWO ROWS.

Students should note if the chair they are taking is designed for a left-handed person and leave it vacant if they are not left-handed. Thanks.

Finally, academic dishonesty is not acceptable in the class -- that includes asking another to sign for town hall meeting and/or video attendance. Students should examine the WWU catalog for penalties from the university. Also, students should note in the WWU catalog the university definition of disruptive behavior -- including behaviors such as repeatedly answering cell phones in class, talking in class, and entering and leaving class repeatedly.

To request disability accommodation, please contact the appropriate WWU resource office at 650-3488 -- or for student assistance related to required course procedures, contact Student Life at 650-3706.

The official WWU policy concerning academic dishonesty is published in the WWU catalog in Appendix C. All students are required to abide by this and other WWU policies, also in the catalog. In addition students must know and adhere to the WWU standards for ethical computing. Documents can be found at http://west.wwu.edu/atus/helpdesk/acceptableusepolicy.shtml and at http://west.wwu.edu/atus/helpdesk/useragreement.shtml



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Grading:

A total of 1,000 points is possible during the quarter. Here are the point-gathering areas:

A) QUIZZES -- Three quizzes (Quiz #1 on Thursday of Week 4; Quiz 2 on Thursday of Week 7; Quiz 3 on Thursday of Week 10). Quiz 1 and 2 will be worth 235 points each. Quiz 3 will be worth 175 points. Exam 1 and 2 will have 25 matching (7 pts. each) and 1 short-essay (60 points) -- see samples at the link on the main J190 page. Pilgrim does not hand out a review sheet, but, instead, as he lectures, he notes material to be included and excluded form exams. Total exam point -- 645.

B) RANDOM VIDEO ATTENDANCE POINTS -- ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED for class videos. VIDEO CONCEPTS & MAJOR POINTS are also a significant PART OF QUIZ CONTENT, so students should arrive on time & take notes during entire video -- focusing on concepts and lists specified and posted at the bottom of each week's J190 Web page.

When video attendance sheet is circulated, STUDENTS MUST SIGN ONLY FOR THEMSELVES. Signatures will normally be worth at least 20 points. Students are honor-bound to remove their signatures if they leave the classroom for longer than 5 minutes or if they leave early. Total video attendance points -- 200.

C) ONLINE DISCUSSION -- Students will be assigned to a group and will participate during Week 8 and 9 in a group discussion. A J190-related question posted by Pilgrim will begin the discussio. Students may earn up to 25 POINTS EACH for three thoughtful entries over Week 8 and the beginning of Week 9 (ends Tuesday of Week 9 at midnight), with all entries being "fat paragraphs" in length. See details just below and on the main J190 discussion Web page. These discussions, which take several hours of reading responses by others and thoughtfully composing entries each week and, thus, replace several Friday meetings. Online postings must be WITHIN the student's ASSIGNED GROUP -- students must respond to Pilgrim's initial question by midnight Tuesday of Week 8. No more than one entry during any one day (midnight to midnight). Total online discussion points -- 75.

D) FINAL ANALYSIS -- In answer to a final question from Pilgrim, a FINAL ANALYSIS essay due online BY THE END OF THE FINAL EXAM TIME DURING WEEK 11 and worth 40 points. Total Final Analysis points -- 40.

E) TOWN HALL MEETINGS --Two "town hall" meetings held in the regular classroom at the regular hour on Friday early in the quarter and mid-way through the quarter. ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY -- 15 POINTS EACH. Total Town Hall Meeting points -- 30.

F) FIRST-DAY RESPONSE/LAST-DAY RESPONSE --First-week and last-day in-class written analysis of media's impact on society, culture and self-governance. 5 points each. Total in-class points -- 10.

Total possible points for the quarter: 1,000

ALL WORK DUE AS SPECIFIED. NO SPECIAL FAVORS. NO MAKEUPS.

Worried about how to get a good grade in J190? Think of the class as having 5 major parts:
1) 235-point Quiz 1;
2) 235-point Quiz 2;
3) 200 points for attending in-class videos -- AT RANDOM. attendance sheets normally worth at least 20 points will be circulated;
4) 175-point Quiz 3;
5) 155 points for online writings, first- and last-day responses, town hall meetings and final analysis.
To get a high grade, you will need to do well in all 5 areas.


Video attendance -- the specifics

On random days that videos are show, an attendance sheet will be circulated.

Each student attending must PRINTS his/her LAST NAME and then SIGNS the first name in the appropriate alphabet section of the sheet.

Each sign-in will normally be WORTH a minimum of 20 POINTS.

NO MAKEUP POINTS GIVEN except medical/verifed emergencies (a written document required) and excused WWU activities.

When the sheet circulates, PILGRIM COUNTS the students in attendance. THE NUMBER OF SIGNATURES ON THE VIDEO ATTENDANCE SHEET MUST MATCH PILGRIM'S TOTAL OR NO POINTS WILL BE AWARDED (instead, detailed question about the video will be added to quizzes).

It is ACADEMIC DISHONESTY to sign for an absent student -- see the WWU catalog about academic dishonesty (minimum penalty for sign-in fraud is 100 points & the WWU judicial process).

Students should take notes on important concepts and information in the video. Required items will be announced in advance on the weeky J190 page. These items will be part of quizzes.

Students may re-view videos in Wilson Library, where all the videos are on reserve. Many are available online as well.

Online discussion -- the specifics

Pilgrim will begin a week of online discussion (Week 8) by posting a question by Monday morning. All students must respond to this question by Tuesday at midnight with a "fat-paragraph" entry that is at least seven sentences long.

The remaining two responses -- spread over Week 8 and early Week 9 -- should be made to other students within the assigned discussion group. Each entry should argue a point of view, be thoughtful and well-supported.

No more than one response for points during any 24-hour period (extra non-point entries are welcome).

On the entries intended for grading, students should place the number of the response after their name (1, 2, 3).

The first response is worth up to 25 points, the second and third worth up to 25 points (full points for a full, thoughtful, argumentative entry at least 7 sentences long; 15 points for a shorter entry; 0 points for no entry or for any extra entry.

All assigned online discussion must be completed by Tues., March 5 at midnight. In these discussions students should NOT ATTACK other writers. Students who don't like written viewpoint should respond with an argument that is compelling. No name-calling; no threats -- as it is important to strive for the civility that Alexander Meiklejohn would applaud.

Important grading information

During the quarter, "points" are given for attendance, assignments and exams. The only "grade" students will be assigned is at the end of the quarter after all points have been awarded. These final grades will be determined by a "loose curve." This system tends to help students achieve higher grades than they would under a regular "curve." For example, under Pilgrim's loose curve -- depending on performance of all class members during the quarter -- the "grade" of A and A- usually begins at 92% of the total possible points. That percentage may be a bit lower or higher, depending on how students perform during that quarter. Other + and - grades similarly vary.

A loose curve is, for the most part, more benign to students and allows Pilgrim freedom NOT to give equal and offsetting numbers of grades (for example, instead of 7 A's and 7 F's, he may give 12 A's and 2 F's) and may alter traditional percentage cutoffs (for example, a D- some quarters falls below 60%).

Make-up exams -- after the exam time, not before -- will given only in cases of medical emergency (accompanied by notes from physicians) or excused university functions. Make-up exams will be a different exam, with more short-answer questions. The exams will be given at 7:30 a.m. on Monday following the exam -- at Pilgrim's office in CF 265.

In case of exams falling on days of university closure because of adverse weather, the scheduled exam will be given the next day or the following Monday -- check Announcements on the J190 website.

Make-up of video attendance is permitted only for university activities or for medical or family emergencies (an official, written document is required).

Pilgrim uses the plus and minus system for J190 grading.

NO SPECIAL EXAM TIMES. Honesty in exam-taking, video attendance signing and writing is required.
The official WWU policy concerning academic dishonesty is published in the WWU catalog in Appendix C. All students are required to abide by this and other WWU policies, also in the catalog. In addition students must know and adhere to the WWU standards for ethical computing.

NOTE ALSO THE POLICIES ON DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT, INTERFERENCE WITH FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS, ETC.



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Schedule:

Readings in Bagdikian's "New Media Monopoly" and Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" should be completed by the BEGINNING of the week assigned below.

Week 1 (Jan. 8-11) -- Syllabus explanation; students read Ch. 1 and 2 in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures
DUE:
FIRST-DAY WRITING RESPONSE -- (done in class) Tues., Jan. 9 (5 pts.)
TOWN HALL MEETING #1 -- Fri., Jan. 11 in regular classroom at regular time (15 pts.)
VIDEOS:
#1 Jan.9 -- (parts of) "The Corporation"
#2 Jan.10 -- "Tough Guise"

Week 2 (Jan. 14-18) -- Read Ch. 4 in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
VIDEOS:
#3 Jan. 14 -- "Killing Us Softly 4"
#4 Jan. 16 -- "Money for Nothing"
#5 Jan. 17 -- "Generation M: misogyny in media and culture"

Week 3 (Jan. 21-25 -- no class MLK Day) -- Read Chapter 5 in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly"; read the "Introduction to Twentieth Anniversary Edition" and Chapter 1 in Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death"; study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
VIDEOS:
#6 Jan. 23 -- "Behind the Screens"
#7 Jan. 24 -- (parts of) "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold"

Week 4 (Jan. 28 - Feb. 1) -- Read Chapter 2 and 3 in Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death"; for Exam 1, study material and readings and video and other Week 1-4 notes; also, study Week 4 lecture material; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
DUE:
QUIZ 1 on Thurs., Jan. 31 over material including Week 4.
Pilgrim will review part of Wed., Jan. 30 -- and will provide under Announcements on the main J190 website a list of material to be EXCLUDED from Quiz 1.
VIDEOS:
#8 Jan. 28 -- "Mickey Mouse Monopoly"
#9 Jan. 29 -- "Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class"

Week 5 (Feb, 4-8) -- Read Chapters 5 and 6 in Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
VIDEOS:
#10 Feb. 4 -- "Overspent American"
#11 Feb. 6 -- "Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood"
#12 Feb. 7 -- "The Ad and the Ego"

Week 6 (Feb. 11-15) -- Read Ch. 7 in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly" and Chapters 7 and 9 in Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
DUE:
VIDEOS:
#13 Feb. 11 -- "Advertising and the End of the World"
#14 Feb. 13 -- "Toxic Sludge is Good For You"
#15 Feb. 14 -- "The Billionaire's Tea Party"

Week 7 (Feb. 18-22 -- no class Presidents Day, Feb. 18) -- Read Chapter 10 and 11 in Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death"; take lecture notes and supplementary material posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
DUE:
Quiz 2 -- Thurs., Feb. 21 -- covers material of Week 5 through and including Week 7; review part of Wed., Feb. 20; On Monday of Week 7 (Feb. 13) under Announcements on J190 website, Pilgrim will post EXCLUSIONS for Quiz 2
TOWN HALL MEETING #2 -- Fri., Feb. 15 in regular classroom at regular time. (15 pts.)
VIDEOS:
#16 Feb. 19 -- "No Logo"

Week 8 (Feb. 25 - March 1) -- Read Chapter 8 in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
DUE: ON-LINE DISCUSSION ENTRIES -- Make first entry by midnight Tues., Feb. 26; 3 entries are due by Tues., March 5 at 3 p.m. -- spread entries over both week -- be certain to address Pilgrim's entry on your first entry -- no more than 1 entry per calendar day -- midnight to midnight (25 pts. possible for each entry) -- 75 possible points total
VIDEOS:
#17 Feb. 25 --"Constructing Public Opinion"
#18 Feb. 27 -- "Outfoxed"
#19 Feb. 28 -- "Freedom of Expression: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property"

Week 9 (March 4-8) -- Read Chapters 12 and the Afterward in Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly"; take lecture notes, study lecture material and supplementary notes posted on Pilgrim's J190 website; analyze and synthesize them with class lectures.
No Friday class meeting
DUE:
VIDEOS:
#20 March 4-- (brief part of) "Manufacturing Consent"
#21 March 5 -- "War Made Easy" -- part 1
#22 March 6 -- "War Made Easy" -- part 2
#23 March 7 -- "Beyond Good and Evil"

Week 10 (March 11-15) -- Ethics lecture; final Pilgrim remarks; in-class written response; survey; course evaluation.
No Friday class meeting
DUE:
LAST-DAY WRITING RESPONSE -- (done in class) Wed., March 13 (5 pts.)
QUIZ 3 -- Thurs., March 14 -- covers material of Week 8, 9 & part of 10 (early in Week 10 under Announcements on J190 website, Pilgrim will post EXCLUSIONS for Quiz 3)
VIDEOS:
#24 March 11 -- "Jon Stewart on humor and an informed public"
#25 March 12 -- "Project Censored"

Week 11 (March 18-22) -- Finals Week
DUE:
Final Analysis -- posted in assigned J190 group before 8 a.m. Wed., March 20 (near the scheduled final exam time).



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Created December 2012; revised January and September 2013 and February 2014