Introduction to Media Studies E59.0001

Course Description This course introduces students of communication studies and journalism to the themes, issues and theoretical debates central to the modern study of mediated forms of communication. It examines the factors that influence the media and, in turn, examines the influence of media on attitudes, values and behaviors, both individual and social. Students will be expected to develop an analytical appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of various media theories and to arrive at some thoughtful conclusions regarding their own theoretical preferences. A simple question guides our inquiry: what does it mean to say that we live in the age of media?

Required Texts Book:

David Croteau and William Hoynes. Media/Society: Industries, Images and Audiences. 3rd edition, Pine Forge Press, 2003. At NYU Bookstore

Reading Kit:

E59.001: Introduction to Media Studies:: Professors Bai & Magder Advanced Copy Center, 522 LaGuardia Place


see Course Documents as indicated in syllabus and periodic course updates

Assignments (Details to follow) • Quizzes: Consisting of multiple choice, true/false, short answers, and short essays • Essay: One (1) 5-6 page (1,500 - 1,800 word) paper on assigned topic and readings • Participation: Based upon your attendance, as well as consistent and productive contributions in tutorials

Grading • In-class Quizzes (3 @ 20% each) • Essay • Tutorial Participation

60% (see class schedule for dates) 25% (due date: November 15) 15%

Evaluation Criteria A = Excellent This work demonstrates comprehensive and solid understanding of course material and presents thoughtful interpretations, wellfocused and original insights and well-reasoned analysis. “A’ work includes skillful use of source materials and illuminating examples and illustrations. “A” work is fluent, thorough and shows some creative flair. B = Good This work demonstrates a complete and accurate understanding of course material, presenting a reasonable degree of insight and broad level of analysis. Work reflects competence, but stays at a general or predictable level of understanding. Source material, along with examples and illustrations, are used appropriately. “B” work is reasonable, clear, appropriate and complete. C = Adequate/Fair


This work demonstrates a basic understanding of course material but remains incomplete, superficial or expresses some important errors or weaknesses. Source material may be used inadequately or somewhat inappropriately. The work may lack concrete, specific examples and illustrations and may be hard to follow or vague. D = Unsatisfactory This work demonstrates a serious lack of understanding and fails to demonstrate the most rudimentary elements of the course assignment. Sources may be used inappropriately or not at all. The work may be inarticulate or extremely difficult to read. plus (+) or minus (-) grades indicate your range with the aforementioned grades.

Late Assignments Late assignments are subject to a penalty equivalent to five (5) percent for each day after the due date. Generally, this means that a one-day late assignment awarded an A will be given an A-, and so on. Teaching assistants may waive this penalty at their discretion based upon individual circumstances.

Grade Appeals Contact your teaching assistant with a short note explaining your concerns about the grade in question. The teaching assistant will set up a meeting to discuss your concerns. If you are still unsatisfied with your grade, follow the same procedure with the professor.

Academic Dishonesty And Plagiarism "Academic integrity is the guiding principle for all that you do…. You violate the principle when you: cheat on an exam; submit the same work for two different courses without prior permission from your professors; receive help on a take-home that calls for independent work; or plagiarize. Plagiarism, whether intended or not, is academic fraud. You plagiarize when, without proper attribution, you do any of the following: copy verbatim from a book, article, or other media; download documents from the Internet; purchase documents; paraphrase or restate someone else’s facts, analysis, and/or conclusions; copy directly from a classmate or allow a classmate to copy form you. " (See School of Education Bulletin, 2006/8, p. 172)

Style Manuals Students are strongly urged to purchase at least one style manual. A good style manual will help to improve the organization and composition of your written work and, used properly, should help ensure proper citation of sources. Here are two recommendations: • Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2003 • Kate Turabian. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th Edition. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996




04 September


06 - 11 September

What Are We Studying? Communication, Media and Culture Media/Society. Chapter 1 & 9 R. Avery and T. McCain. “Interpersonal and Mediated Encounters: A Reorientation of the Mass Communication Process,” in G. Gumpert and R. Cathcart eds. Inter/Media. 1982 (kit) Edward Sapir. “Communication,” in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1931 (kit) Neil Postman. “The Information Environment,” idem. Teaching as a Conserving Activity. 1979 (kit) Key terms: media; communication; feedback; interpersonal communication; social construction of reality; socialization; social relations; structure; agency; the American “conversation ideal”; sensory integration; primary and secondary communicative processes; the information environment

18 - 20 – 25 - 27 September

The Media Industry: Economics, Organization and Culture Media/Society. Chapter 2 D. Czitrom. “Lightening Lines and the Birth of Modern Communication,” in idem. Media and the American Mind: from Morse to McLuhan. 1982 (kit) Ted Magder. “The End of TV 101: Reality Programs, Formats & the New Business of Television,” in S. Murray and L. Ouellette, eds. Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture. 2004 (kit) John Cassidy. “Me Media,” The New Yorker. 15 May 2006 (kit) Key terms: universal communication; concentration of ownership; conglomeration; vertical and horizontal integration; synergy; homogenization hypothesis; content diversity; product placement; buying mood; audience ratings and shares; formats

02 – 04 October

Free Speech, Diversity, and the Public Interest Media/Society. Chapter 3 RCFP (Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press). “Covering the War and its Aftermath,” in Homeland Confidential. 5th edition, September 2004 (pdf –blackboard) Key terms: The First Amendment; non-interference principle; multiplicity of voices principle; content ratings and warnings; Federal Communications Commission; regulation of ownership and content; public interest; national interest; indecency; Sidle Panel Report

09 October

Quiz #1

11 – 16 - 18 October

It’s a Living: Routines and Conventions - all the news that fits, we print Media/Society. Chapter 4 & 7 (pp.231-39 and 242-4). H. Molotch and M. Lester. “News as Purposive Behavior: on the Strategic Uses of Routine Events, Accidents, and Scandals,” in S. Cohen and J. Young eds. The Manufacture of News. 1981 (kit) K. & G.E. Lang. “How Americans View the World: Media Images and Public Knowledge,” in H. Tumber ed. Media Power, Professionals and Public Policy. 2000 (kit)


Eric Klinenberg. “Convergence: News Production in a Digital Age,” in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 2005 (kit) It’s a Living: Routines and Conventions - all the news that fits, we print, cont’d

Key terms: organizational and professional conventions; socialization; newsworthy; bias and objectivity; gatekeeper; sources; routine events, accidents and scandals; habitual, disruptive and direct access; hard vs. soft-news; agenda-setting; foreign news and the domestication of selection; convergence and the new newsroom

23 –25 October

Media and Identity: Race & Ethnicity Media/Society, chapter 6 Video: Color Adjustments: Blacks in Prime-Time (in-class) Herman Gray. “The Politics of Representation in Network Television,” in H. Newcomb, ed. Television: the Critical View. 6th edition, 2000 (kit) CSRC. “Looking for Latino Regulars on Prime-Time Television: fall 2004 season,” 2004 (pdf – blackboard) Key terms: stereotypes; race; ‘modern’ racism; assimilationism; pluralism; multiculturalism

30 October

Media-Made Reality: Re-Presenting the World Media/Society, chapter 5 Marita Sturken & Lisa Cartwright. “Practices of Looking,” idem. Practices of Looking: an Introduction to Visual Culture. 2001 (kit) Key terms: ideology; normalization; representation; genres; denotation and connotation; myth; signifiers, signified & signs; icons

01 November

Media and Identity: Class and Gender Media/Society, chapter 6 (pp. 212 – 216) Gaye Tuchman. “The Symbolic Annihilation of Women,” Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media. 1978 (kit) Muriel Cantor. “Prime-Time Fathers: A Study in Continuity and Change,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication. 7, 1990 (kit) Key terms: gender; class; symbolic annihilation; reflection hypothesis; ethnicity

06 November

Quiz # 2

08 – 13 November

Media Effects Mass Culture, Mass Panic, and Mass Persuasion Media/Society, chapter 7, especially pp. 240- 47 Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld. “Between Media and Mass,” in idem. Personal Influence: the part played by people in the flow of mass communication. 1955 (kit) Hedley Cantril. “The Invasion from Mars,” in Wilbur Schramm and Donald Roberts, Process and Effects of Mass Communication. l97l Key terms: hypodermic model and magic bullet theory; mass society theory; selective influence perspective; propaganda; intervening variables and the media effects; critical ability


15 - 20 November

Limited Effects? S. Baran and D. Davis. “Limited Effects Theory,” in idem. Mass Communication Theory. 1995 (kit) P. Lazarsfeld and R. Merton. “Mass Communication, Popular Taste and Social Action,” in L. Byrson, Communication of Ideas, 1948 (kit) Key terms: two-step flow hypothesis; opinion leaders; minimal or limited effects theory; paradigms and paradigm shifts; status-conferral; enforcement of norms; narcotizing dysfunction; monopolization; canalization and supplementation

27 November

The Persistence of Violence – as content and social issue George Gerbner . “Death in Prime Time.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 1980 Nancy Signorielli. “Prime-Time Violence: Has the Picture Really Changed?” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. 2003 Key terms: cultivation analysis; Violence Index; Mean World Syndrome

29 November

Active Audiences – Reception and Pleasure Media/Society, chapter 8 Bernard Berelson. “What ‘Missing’ the Newspaper Means,” in W. Schramm, ed., The Process and Effects of Mass Communication. l961 (kit) Key terms: active audience; interpretation; polysemy; encoding-decoding model; social context of media use; interpretive resistance and textual pleasure; ceremonial or ritualistic uses of media

04 - 06 December

Globalization and New Media: Issues and Ethics Media/Society, chapter 10 John Tomlinson. “Homogenisation & Globalisation,” History of European Ideas. 1999 (kit) Susan Sontag. “Regarding the Torture of Others,” New York Times Magazine, 23 May, 2004 (kit) Yuezhi Zhao, “Between a World Summit and a Chinese Movie: visions of the ‘information society,’ Gazette: International Journal for Communication Studies. 2004 Key terms: globalization; cultural and media imperialism; global village; cultural homogenization and cultural autonomy; WSIS

11 December

Quiz #3