Introduction to Mass Communication

Course Details

Course Number: MCOM 1233  Section Number: 102

Fall 2013

Location: McCoy Engineering Hall

Classroom Number: 131

Days & Times:

TR @ 9:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.,

Course Attachments


MSU Faculty Member
Liz Minden   
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Course Objectives


The course is designed to give you a broad understanding of the development of mass media and the theory, issues and trends in mass communication.  In addition to lecture information, students are expected to participate in class discussions, conduct research on mass communication topics, and read/watch current mass media news and information that will help them understand mass communication in an increasingly complex technical and global environment.  By the end of this course, students should be able to:

1. Explain how each mass medium developed and currently operates.
2. Outline some of mass communication’s concepts and theories.
3. List some of mass media’s social, legal, ethical and regulatory constraints.
4. Discuss the complex issues and trends surrounding mass communication and mass media, and how they affect the future of mass communication.

Course Expectations


1. QUIZZES are unscheduled and held at the instructor’s discretion.  They will cover lecture information, any assigned readings and/or discussion topics, and are worth 5 points each.  Quizzes will be held at the beginning of class, so please be on time.

2. THREE GROUP DISCUSSIONS – each discussion is worth 25 points
 These discussions are based on lectures, current news items and issues in mass  communication.  Students will be divided into groups and answer questions about the  topic.  All students must participate in these discussions.  At the end of the discussion  period, each group will elect someone to present group discussion results to the class.   Group Discussion dates are: Oct. 10, Oct. 31 and Nov. 26.

3. THREE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS – each assignment is worth 50 points
a. These assignments are about a variety of mass communication topics.  You will examine some information and write answers to specific questions; written instructions will be provided and include the grading criteria for each assignment.
b. Homework Assignments are due: Sept. 26, Oct. 17 and Nov. 7

4. PERSONAL JOURNAL – worth 200 points
a. This project involves finding recent articles relating to mass media and/or mass communication and writing a synopsis of the article, as well as your thoughts about the information in these articles.  A handout detailing this assignment and its grading criteria will be provided.  Please see me if you have difficulty with this assignment.
b. Journals are due: Nov. 21

5. FINAL EXAM – this exam is worth 100 points
a. This will be a take-home essay exam that asks you to tie together certain course information and evaluate issues.  You will be given a handout explaining the assignment and its grading criteria, as well as several days to write the exam.
b. Exam is due:  Tuesday, December 10, by 10 a.m. – absolutely no exceptions!!

Grading Standards


1. Late work will not be accepted, but you may turn in your work early.  Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period.  A late assignment earns a zero for points.  NOTE: I’m always happy to get assignments early!
2. Fabricating information or using another’s work as your own earns you an “F” for the course.  Other sanctions may apply.  (See “Course Policies” #2.)
3. Points will be deducted from typed assignments that have numerous grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.
4. Students are expected to come to class having read any assigned materials upon which quizzes, writing assignments and classroom discussions are based.
5. Your ability to make up any missed assignment is at the sole discretion of the instructor.
6. Numerical grades will be awarded for each quiz and assignment.  To determine your grade for the course, quiz and assignment grades will be totaled and then divided by the total number of possible points to derive your percentage. The grading scale is:

      A = 90% -100% of the total possible points
      B = 80% - 89% of the total possible points
      C = 70% - 79% of the total possible points
      D = 60% - 69% of the total possible points
      F = Less than 60% of the total possible points

**NOTE:  The instructor reserves the right to add or cancel assignments as the course progresses.  If for some reason the number of assignments total more or fewer than the original number set for the course, the method of calculating your final grade will remain the same:  the total points a student achieves for all submitted assignments will be divided by the total possible points for all the assignments to obtain a percentage, and a grade will be assigned according to the percentage scale outlined above.

Final Exam12/10/2013  8 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Submission Format PolicyNote: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Late work will not be accepted, but you may turn in your work early.  Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period.  A late assignment earns a zero for points.  NOTE: I’m always happy to get assignments early!

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be on time for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student who misses more than three class periods.  Makeup work for any absence is at the discretion of the instructor.

Other Policies


1. Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be on time for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student who misses more than three class periods.  Makeup work for any absence is at the discretion of the instructor.

2. Academic Dishonesty:  Plagiarism is (1) using someone else’s source material (including information from the Internet) without following accepted guidelines of giving credit; or (2) submitting work for credit that is not your own. THE INSTRUCTOR WILL TAKE APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR STUDENTS CAUGHT CHEATING, PLAGIARIZING OR FABRICATING INFORMATION. The MSU Student Honor Creed, found in both your student handbook and the university catalog, reinforces this policy:  “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.” 

3. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act: Any student who is registered with the MSU Office of Disability Support Services and needs course accommodations, or requires other special considerations because of a disability, should notify the instructor as soon as possible to ensure that these accommodations are provided.

4. Limited Right:  By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course. This “limited right” shall include, but shall not be limited to, the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.

5. FERPA:  The instructor abides by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The instructor also will not release a student’s academic information or discuss a student’s academic progress or class attendance with his/her parent or guardian.  Additionally, the instructor will not discuss a student’s grades with him/her in class, over the phone or by email.  STUDENTS WHO HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR GRADES MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE INSTRUCTOR.

6. Disruptive Behavior:  Anyone disrupting the class – or violating any other Standard of Conduct applicable to the classroom environment – will be dropped from the course.  (See MSU Student Handbook, “Standards of Student Conduct.”)
a. Turn off the sound on your cell phone during class.  No text messaging either.  If your phone rings or you’re found sending a text during class, you will be dropped from the course.
b. Turn off your iPods and similar technology.  Like ringing cell phones, this is a class disruption issue and you will be dropped from the course if you do not comply.
c. Be polite.  Discourtesy of any kind will not be tolerated.

7. Senior Portfolio:  Please note that all mass communication majors are required to submit a portfolio as part of their internship course, which is a pre-requisite for Senior Production.  This requirement is a part of MSU’s reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is non-negotiable.  Through the portfolio, students are required to demonstrate communication competence through the written word and visual communication; two examples of each competency are required.

 As you go through this and other classes, you are responsible for saving course work that could be included in your senior portfolio.

 Please see your instructor, adviser, the department chair or any mass communication faculty member for handouts with more information (“Mass Communication Senior Portfolio Competencies” and “Mass Communication Senior Portfolio FAQ”).  These handouts are also available on the department web page:

8.   Other:  You MAY be asked to provide your assignments on a portable computer medium (e.g., jump/thumb drive/memory stick) - or possibly by email. However, please do not automatically email your assignments without having been asked to do so. Among other considerations, email is not a very reliable way to turn in important assignments.

BE AWARE THAT the instructor reserves the right to change ANY part of this syllabus for any reason, and will give sufficient notice if changes are necessary.

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.