Introduction to

Mass Communications 


CMMN A100 is designed to provide you an overview of the mass media of communications in the United States--what they are, their historical background, their role in the political society, their functions, their effects, their limitations, ethical and legal concerns, and current issues.

Values and competencies. The course should contribute to your knowledge and understanding of the following professional values and competencies:
-First Amendment principles and the law appropriate to professional practice;
-the history and role of mass communications and how it has shaped society;
-the diversity of groups in a global society in relationship to communications;
-the concepts and theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
-ethical practice in the use and presentation of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
-thinking critically, creatively and independently;
-conducting research and evaluating information;
-writing correctly and clearly;
-basic numerical and statistical concepts;
-aesthetic sensibilities;
-life-long learning.

Two books are required reading. The textbook is John Vivian's The Media of Mass Communication (7th ed., 2005), the leading introductory textbook. Read the assigned chapter before each class period, as shown on the calendar below, so that you can participate fully and do well on the daily quiz. You are also to read and review The New Media Monopoly (5th ed.) by Ben Bagdikian (see below). Other materials may be assigned from time to time, and you will be expected to read them and be able to discuss them and be tested on them.

Blackboard. Additional course material will be distributed via Blackboard, and you should check it regularly for class announcements and for supplementary materials. Log into Blackboard by following the instructions at

A chapter quiz will be given daily at the beginning of the class period to help you grasp the main points. You must be in class at the time the quiz is handed out in order to take it.

Six exams are scheduled. Five will cover blocks of chapters, as shown on the calendar. The final exam will be cumulative. Some questions will require essay responses, so large-format blue books are required.

In no instance will a quiz or an exam be given at other than the scheduled time. Please arrange doctor's appointments, trips home and other personal activities so that they do not conflict with quizzes or exams. If you do have a conflict that prevents you from taking an exam at the scheduled time, please do not ask to take the exam at another time.

Outside assignments:
-Carry out an exercise designed to help you familiarize yourself with library materials in communication.
-Develop a bibliography of web sites for keeping current about one of the fields taught in the Department of Communications. In no more than three sentences for each site, describe its value.
-As noted above, you are to write a review of 1,000 words of Ben Bagdikian's The New Media Monopoly (5th ed.). Be prepared to discuss your evaluation in class.
-Write a three- to five-page paper on a current issue in mass communication.

Written work must be typed double-space in 12 point Times. You are expected to read your copy carefully so that you can correct any spelling and typographical errors before turning in your work.

Submit your papers through Details will be provided in class.

Do your best on the assignments shown here. No one will be given extra work to bring up a grade.

Attendance is important. You may have five cuts without penalty. Six cuts will result in a D for the course. Seven cuts will result in an F.

A few rules for classroom decorum are necessary so that no one is distracted from the work we are doing:

-Please be here at the start of each class. Tardiness will count as one-half a cut.
-If you have a cell phone, turn it off before you enter the classroom.
-Please do not leave the room during class. If you do leave, do not take your classmates' attention away from their work a second time by returning.
-Do not eat, drink or chew gum in class.
-If you have a cold, please bring tissues or a handkerchief so that you do not annoy others with sniffling. That is especially important during exams.
-Males, do not wear a hat in class, please.

Woody Allen said it best: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Attendance is important. You may have two cuts (one week of class). If you accumulate three cuts, you cannot earn better than a B; with four cuts you cannot earn better than a C; with five cuts you cannot earn better than a D; and with six cuts (three weeks of class), you cannot earn better than an F.

Your grade will be based on your performance on quizzes, 5% of total; chapter exams, 10% each; final exam, 15%; issue paper, 10%; review, 10%; library exercise, 5%; web exercise, 5%.
A=91-100; B= 81-90; C=71-80; D=61-70; F=0-60.

All work must be your own. Please review the University's policy on "Integrity of Scholarship and Grades," in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Any dishonesty will result in an F for the course.

Updated AUGUST 23, 2005
Back to Courses