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Dr. Christopher Burnett

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COMMS-JOUR55 :: Syllabus

Instructor : Dr. Christopher Burnett

Office: Mendocino Hall 5026

Class Meets: Monday, Wednesday , 3-4:15 p.m. in Mendocino 1003

Office Hours: Monday 10-11 a.m., Monday and Wednesday 4:15-5:15 p.m.

Office Phone: (916)278-5311

e-mail: burnettc@csus.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES : This course is designed to examine the various ways the mass media operate and examine the various kinds of news media. Eight forms of mass media – newspapers, magazines, books, radio, recordings, television, movies and the Internet – will be examined. Two industries-- public relations and advertising-- that support and work with the mass media also will be examined. Social issues, ethics and the global media also will be discussed as well as the ways the media interacts with other elements of society to produce a message. Since the presidential election campaign will be going on during the first two months of the semester, expect a lot of examples in class to come from the campaigns. A critical element in the class is fostering critical thinking among students on the role the media and other groups in society play in fashioning a message.

TEXTBOOK: Biagi, Shirley. Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, Seventh Edition, 2005.

ATTENDANCE: Attendance is essential for this course. Class discussions, exercises and critical evaluations demand that you attend regularly. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to obtain material that was missed. Arrive in class ON TIME. If you regularly arrive late, you will miss quizzes, given at the beginning of class, and which cannot be made up. You also will incur my ire, and repeated lateness may result in points being deducted from your final grade.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS: Assignments are due at the beginning of class. I will not accept e-mailed assignments. You are responsible for printing out homework. You can turn in homework after class at or before the next class session, but that assignment will be deducted by three points.

EXTRA CREDIT: Since this is a mass communications class and mass communication is a 24/7 even there will be opportunities for you to earn extra credit, in particular later in the semester when you will be wanting it most.I will be announcing these opportunities during the course of the semester. No late extra credit assignments will be accepted. Extra credit assignments generally will count for 10 bonus points.

REACTION PAPERS : Youcan get credit for being in class by writing short reaction papers, in class, on videos and other presentations. These must be turned in by the end of the class period. This is part of your attendance grade. The reaction papers are intended to be your reactions to the mediums that you consume (and hopefully a catalyst for critical thinking skills). So you can briefly describe what you are reacting to, but that should not be your entire journal. Entries can be hand-written and should not exceed one page.

HOMEWORK: I will assign four homework exercises during the semester. These will involve a mixture of research and writing on current affairs issues. You generally will have a week to complete these assignments. An assessment methods worksheet can be viewed online.

EXPECTATIONS: You must turn in all extra credit and homework typed and double spaced unless otherwise specified. Journals can be hand written.

PLAGIARISM: If you are caught plagiarizing, you will receive an F for the course. University plagiarism policies are strictly enforced. See the plagiarism policy handout in your CSUS catalog if you have any questions.


GRADING: Reaction papers (4 times 5 points) 20 points

Quizzes (10 entries by 10 points) 100 points

Tests (3, including non-cumulative final) 150 points

Homework Assignments (4 at 20 points each) 80 points



A=350-315 points

B=314-280 points

C= 279--245 points

D=244-210 points

F=209 and below


The Weekly Schedule*


 Week of January 24 – Introduction to Course, Read Chapter 1: Understanding Mass Media Today

January 31 – Chapter 3: Newspapers

February 7 – Chapter 3: Newspapers; Chapter 4: Magazines

February 14 -- Chapter 4: Magazines; Chapter 2: Books

February 21 – Chapter 6: Radio

February 28 – Chapter 5: Recordings

March 7 -- First Exam covering chapters 1-6. Chapter 7: Movies

March 14 – Chapter 7: Movies; Chapter 8: Television


March 28 – Chapter 8: Television; Chapter 13: Social and Political Issues

April 4 - Chapter 10: Advertising and Chapter 11: Public Relations

April 11 – Chapter 9: Digital Communications and the Web

April 18 – Test 2: Covering Chapters 7-11, 13, any videos, lectures, etc.

April 25 – Chapter 12: News and Information

May 2 – Chapter 14: Law; Chapter 15: Ethics. Media Journal Due on Dec. 3.

May 9– Chapter 16: International Media

Week of May 16 – Exam 3. Covers chapters 12, 14-16 and any videos we have seen during class.

At scheduled exam time and date.

About the Professor: I am a professional journalist and a former Washington reporter and editor. However, I’ve also worked in the public relations industry. I have a Ph.D. in political science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and came to Sacramento last fall from Long Beach, where I was school newspaper adviser from 2001-2004. My passions, as you soon will discover, are politics, history, current events and the outdoors . 

Text and Materials

 Required: The text for the course this semester is/are:

Biagi, Shirley. Media Impact: An Introduction to the Mass Media, 2005

You can purchase books through the Hornet Bookstore. Check their Online Textbook Sales page at http://www.foundation.csus.edu/bookstore/textbooks/ for ordering information. A used copy of the text is fine.

last updated: 01/21/05
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