COMM 100: Mass Media and Society

Citrus College Course Outline of Record

Citrus College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Fall 2021
Credits: 3
Total Contact Hours: 54
Lecture Hours : 54
Lab Hours: 0
Hours Arranged: 0
Outside of Class Hours: 108
District General Education: D1. History and Political Science
Transferable to CSU: Yes
Transferable to UC: Yes - Approved
Grading Method: Standard Letter

Catalog Course Description

A survey and evaluation of mass media in economic, historical, political, psychological, and sociological terms. Focuses on helping the media consumer understand the power and significance of mass communications: books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, motion pictures, the Internet, public relations, and advertising. Discusses the rights and responsibilities and interrelatedness of media in a diverse global society. Required for all communications and journalism majors; also a general interest course. 54 lecture hours.

Course Objectives

  • identify the channels of mass communication and discuss their roles in influencing individual and group behavior and in shaping contemporary society
  • define the First Amendment and demonstrate understanding its guarantees of free speech, free press, and free expression
  • list and discuss each of the four functions of mass communications: information, entertainment, persuasion, and transmission of culture
  • outline the historical and technological development of each of the mass media, identify major industry trends, and explore employment opportunities
  • describe the power and reach of global mass media conglomerates
  • identify at least three economic problems confronting mass communication industries
  • explain briefly laws regarding libel, sedition, obscenity, and invasion of privacy and demonstrate familiarity with industry codes of ethics
  • define the roles of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and discuss governmental policies regulating media
  • discuss the ethnic, racial, gender, economic, and social biases that influence the content of the media

Major Course Content

  1. Mass Communication Channels Defined; Media as Businesses.
  2. Publishing Industry: Books as Repositories of Knowledge and Historical Transmitters of Culture.
  3. Magazines and Photography: Women and Minority Audiences; Muckrakers as Social Reformers; Roles in Creating a Sense of Nationhood and Social Cohesion.
  4. Newspapers: Minority, Local, Regional, National, International Formats.
  5. Sound Recordings: Force for Racial Integration and Social Change.
  6. Motion Pictures: Studios and Stars; Ratings; Censorship.
  7. Radio: News and Information Music and Entertainment; Commercials.
  8. Television: Local Access, Networks, Cable, Satellite.
  9. Journalism: Gathering and Reporting News; Agencies and Syndicates; Gatekeepers.
  10. Internet: Communications Revolution; Digital Technology; Universal Access and Diversity Issues.
  11. Public Relations: Services, Boutiques, Agencies.
  12. Advertising: Psychological Appeals, Artistic Creation, Consumerism.
  13. Media Research: Theoretical and Applied Audience Studies; Nielsen, Arbitron, and other Services.
  14. Mass Communication: Types, Theories, Models, Impediments.
  15. Media Effects: Socialization; Sex and Violence Studies; Formation of Self-Concept; Minority Stereotypes; Pressure on Women; Societal Norms and Mass Culture.
  16. Global Mass Media: Models and Players; Cultural Subversion; Corporate Ideology.
  17. Mass Media and Governance: Watchdog Role; Government Manipulation; Propaganda; Lobbyists; Regulators.
  18. Media Law: Prior Restraint and Censorship; Libel, Slander, Obscenity, Pornography, Privacy, Copyright.
  19. Media Ethics: Moral Principles; Conflicting Forces; Industry Codes; Economic Imperative Versus Social Responsibility.

Suggested Reading Other Than Required Textbook

Topical readings on the industry that highlight issues, controversies and the latest research.
Examples might include:
"Provocative Chinese Cartoonists Find An Outlet Online" from NPR's website (March 16, 2012):
"In Downturn, Americans Flock to the Movies" from the New York Times (February 28, 2009)

Examples of Required Writing Assignments

Write a paper in which you tackle both sides of the debate over downloading and swapping music on the Internet. Explore the key legal, technical and artistic impacts of music swapping. What is the future for artists and the music business? What do you propose as a fair and just solution?
The purpose of this project is to introduce you to the business of media. The four largest media rivals in the United States are large enough to compete on a global scale. They are Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, and NewsCorp. Using your Web browser, explore each company’s website and then write a paper in which you answer the following questions: a. Each of these media giants has a variety of media holdings but may concentrate on one kind (books, movies, television, print) over another. Compare and contrast their holdings. Does any company seem to have "cornered the market" in a given area? b. These companies have penetrated almost every media market in one form or another. Would you consider their vast ownership a media monopoly? Why or why not? c. From the companies’ standpoints, what is the positive aspect of being so diversified? In your concluding paragraph, state the insights you have gained into media ownership by doing this study. Can you perceive any trends? Based on your conclusions, speculate about what the future will bring in terms of who controls information in this country and the world.

Examples of Outside Assignments

Technology continues to improve upon our ability to manipulate both still and moving images subtly enough to avoid easy detection. With this ability to manipulate the "reality" seen by an audience, ethical use of this power is essential. Where should the lines be drawn? Are there instances in which this subtle retouching of an image is actually beneficial? Create a set of guidelines for the ethical use of this image-manipulation technology in the news media.
Here's an exercise to do with your favorite magazine:
Pick your favorite magazine. Try to pick one that hasn't been done by another student already, so we have an interesting variety. Look at the ads and content and tell me what you think the average reader is like based on your observations. How old are they? What kind of money do they make (if they work). What kind of lifestyle do they lead?
Then I want you to visit the magazine's website and find the link to the media kit. Pretty much every major magazine has a link. GQ, Cosmo -- they've got them. Take a look at the demographics there. How accurate was your analysis? Were there any surprises? Present your findings in class or on the discussion board.

Instruction Type(s)

Lecture, Online Education Lecture

IGETC Area 4: Social and Behavioral Sciences

4G. Interdisciplinary, Social & Behavioral Sciences