Syllabus for Journalism 5 — Mass Communication

Journalism 5Introduction to Mass CommunicationTTh   FM 104Instructor: Dave Silverbrande-mail address:  Work no. 443-6666 

Office hours: By previous arrangement.  My mailbox is in the Arts and Humanities Office.  This class is a 3-unit General Education class, transferable to UC’s and CSU’s.

Class objective: An introduction to the history, purpose and methods of print and electronic media. Issues involving social, political and technological impacts on mass communication will be studied through exploration of newspapers, magazines, film, television, computers and emerging technologies.

–We will also be looking at examples of current and past documentaries to evaluate their message and technique.

–We will study the effect of the media on national and local policy changes as well as evolving social attitudes.  This class relies heavily on participation and discussion.


Critical Thinking: This is primarily a theory course designed to sharpen one’s skill at evaluating media messages.  This involves judging information sources as well as content.  We will compare and contrast skills required to evaluate different media sources: Internet, broadcast, print and movies.

Class perspective.  I am a career television reporter and much of what I deal with each day is determined by unpredictable events.   Similarly, much of what we talk about will be dictated by news events and technology revelations.  That’s why it will important to have some working knowledge of current events and methods of obtaining information about those events.

Required Materials:  There is no standard text but I will be making reading assignments in current publications.  You are also required to keep a notebook of class information.

Attendance: It is mandatory and an important component of your final grade.  Excused absences are recognized only by a doctor’s signed note. You are also responsible for material covered in class.  Don’t ask me what you missed.  Get it from someone else.

Tests: There are no formal exams but your grade is weighed heavily by other factors.  Furthermore, attendance at the final exam period is required by the college.  Failure to so can result in failure from the course.


Use of cell phones, text-messaging or private conversations will not be permitted in this class.  You instructor has the right to discharge you from the class either for that period or for the entire semester.  I have exercised this right in the past and will do so again, no questions asked.


Semester-Long Project:  Your grade is determined in large part by your semester-long commitment to a media-related project or endeavor.  You may fulfill that commitment in one of four ways, or in a combination of those four ways.


Term Paper:  Select a media-related topic of interest and prepare a presentation based on your findings.  This would be a 12 to 15 page paper (which may include charts or graphs).   You are not required to use MLA or other formal citations but you must reference the sources of your specific information. 


For example, if you say that the Internet is the number one source of information for high school students, you must explain the source of that information (Ex: According to The Columbia Journalism Review)   The role of local broadcast stations in advertising and the impact of social media on our lives..


These papers must involve some local aspect of the media.  This is to dissuade use of cutting and pasting on-line articles, a frequent problem.


CR Website and Video Magazine: This is a video project produced by us and posted on the web.  You may see examples of it at  .  No technical skill is required but time commitment is essential.  We are usually able to produce 15 or 20 o9f these projects a year.


Documented Participation in a media-related project:  This can include such activities as working at a radio station, job-shadowing a reporter or media worker or writing for a blog or print publication.  We can help you find internship opportunities with local media.


Except for the term paper, you must log the time you devote to all activities, presenting that log to me on the final day of the class.  The log should include date, activity and time spent on that activity.  Failure to submit the log will result in failure to pass the class.


It is expected that you log a minimum of 20 hours of activity in the media related project.


Class responses: Every class lecture is vital to understanding media.  With that in mind, I am requiring a weekly written response to the topic of the week.  This is a one-page synopsis (what you took away from the discussion) of the topics discussed.  It can be submitted either in hard-copy form or on-line.  The on-line submissions will be used in the on-line blog.  This is also your opportunity to comment on lecture topics you may not have understood.


This means that at any time during the semester, you will be able to track your grade and progress in this class. 


Term Paper or Project:                                                                          1000 points

Lecture response papers                                                                         1500 points

                                                                        Total                              2500 points.                                                  


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