Spring 2016 jomc 240. 002: current issues in mass communication tues & Thurs – 3: 35pm 4: 45pm

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Tues & Thurs – 3:35pm - 4:45pm|CA 283

Instructor: Livis James Freeman, Jr
Email: lfreeman@email.unc.edu
Phone: 919.389.3486
Office Hours: After Class on T and TH or by appointment
Office Location: TBD

This course will teach you to analyze the interrelationships between our country’s mass media and the society they serve. To do this, you will be emerged into all things media and become active media consumers! Though this class is entitled “current issues in mass communication,” we will also examine relevant “past issues” that have led to the digital revolution that has transformed the way we live, think and communicate.

Our current issues will cover everything across the board including but not limited to sports, philanthropy, entertainment and politics. We will also examine each of the newest and most popular social media platforms and how they are used to deliver information about current issues.

By the end of the semester, you will better equipped to:

(1) Be an active media consumer with a voice and ability to use it responsibly.

(2) Learn how to tell the good media from the bad media and the bad media from the ugly media!
(3) Read between the lines and determine what news articles in print, on TV, on the radio and internet are really trying to tell you.
(4) Understand what makes front page news and why the media covers the stories that they do
(5) Understand the importance of creating and maintaining a digital footprint and social media profile

There won’t be a required textbook in this class. Readings will be assigned each week and will mostly consist of online articles and videos. Check your email frequently for reading updates!

I guarantee that this class will be unlike any other you’ve ever taken (and I mean that in the best way possible)! I will do my part to present class material in exciting and vivid ways and provide the best guest speakers to keep your attention. All I ask is that you do your part by working hard, treating everyone in the class with respect, and coming to class prepared and ready to be actively engaged with your classmates.

You are expected to approach your obligations to this course as you would a job. Attend every class, be on time, stay on task with your computer and cell phones, prepare thoroughly for class, contribute to class discussions appropriately, and treat your colleagues with respect. Interactions with guest speakers and with our course clients should always be professional and enthusiastic. Written and designed work must be error-free and reflect the best of your abilities.

Regular class attendance is a student obligation, and each student is responsible for all work within class and group meetings. No unexcused absences will be allowed. An unexcused absence is one that you have not cleared with me beforehand. Rest assured, if your absences from class mount then your grade will reflect it.

You are permitted to use laptops for note-taking, research, and other work as assigned in class. However, to minimize distractions to your classmates and to me, please minimize use of your laptop for non-class purposes. It’s particularly important to limit use of technology when we have visiting clients and guest speakers, because they have made a special effort to visit with us and deserve our undivided attention. During these visits, limit laptop use to obvious note-taking, and do not text.

Grading guidelines may be found here: http://www.unc.edu/ugradbulletin/procedures1.html#grading.

Grades are EARNED, not given, and “A” grades are reserved for truly exceptional performance. Grades follow a typical pattern: A = 94-100, A- = 90-93, B+ = 87-89, B = 84-86, B- = 80-83, C+ = 77-79, C = 73-76, C- = 70-72, D+ = 67-69, D = 63-66, D- = 60-62 and F = below 59.


Participation (40% of total grade): Active participation is vital to the success of the class. If you want to sit and listen to a lecture, take another class. Effective participation is achieved two ways: in-class discussion and out-of-class blogging.

In class: Much of the class time will involve students discussing issues of the day and how the media are dealing with them. Come with ideas based on the reading and your personal experiences.

Out of class: Each student will create a blog and post a minimum of three media observations with links per week. The number of entries, the level of your insight, and your interactivity with others will determine your grade. Your posts should be related to developments in mass media or to your personal reflections of how media are affecting you. For instance, you could link to and write about the disruption of media on business, government, relationships or media itself. You could write about the NSA, privacy, credibility and truth in the media. The best blogs will be a mix. This is not a journal of the day's news events. It is a blog of media developments.

Out of class/in class: In each class two students will lead a discussion on mass media developments that they've found interesting. Dates will be assigned on Day 2.
Readings/Quizzes (30% of total grade): Keeping up with the assigned reading/videos is required. As such, there will be a 5-10-question test at the beginning of each class. The test will serve to assure accountability and verify that you're come to class prepared for discussions. If you have completed the homework, you will have no problem answering the questions.
Research project (30% of total grade): This will serve as your Final. You will be given your topic on the first day of class. You will have all semester to work on it. Because of that, I have high expectations for your research and insight. Procrastinate at your own peril. It can take a variety of forms. A paper: 10 pages with at least 10 sources. If it is a video or recording, make a proposal to me. If you think you have an idea for the next Twitter, let's hear it.

Total Grade/Assignment Breakdown
Participation -- 40 percent

Weekly quizzes -- 30 percent

Research project -- 30 percent


If you require special accommodations to attend or participate in this course, please let the instructor know as soon as possible. If you need information about disabilities visit the Accessibility Services website at https://accessibility.unc.edu/.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to equality of educational opportunity. The University does not discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and activities on the basis of age, gender, race, color, national origin, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Dean of Students (Suite 1106, Student Academic Services Building, CB# 5100, 450 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5100 or [919] 966-4042) has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the University’s nondiscrimination policies.

UNC does not tolerate harassment based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, culture, disability, or for any other reason. It is also a violation of the Honor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Title IX of the Educational Amendments. If you need assistance with a harassment issue or problem, bring it to my attention or The Office of the Dean of Students, dos@unc.edu or 919.966.4042.

You are expected to conduct yourself within the guidelines of the University honor system (http://studentconduct.unc.edu/). All academic work should be done with the high levels of honesty and integrity that this University demands. You are expected to produce your own work in this class.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) requires that, irrespective of their particular specialization, all graduates should be aware of certain core values and competencies and be able to:

• Understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press for the country in which the institution that invites ACEJMC is located, as well as receive instruction in and understand the range of systems of freedom of expression around the world, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;

• Demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;
• Demonstrate an understanding of gender, race ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications;
• Demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society;
• Understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
• Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
• Think critically, creatively and independently;
• Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;
• Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;
• Critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;
• Apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
• Apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work.


This schedule is an outline of our work over the course of the semester. Our assignments and timeline will likely be constantly changing as the world of communications does. I will alert you of any changes in readings, assignments, due dates, etc., over the course of the semester. Thank you for your flexibility.



Readings/Assignments due


Jan 12

Introductions; course policies; research topics given out; Media Diet Assignment

Media Diet Assignment Given Out

Jan 14

The “Necessary Ambiguity of Communication”

READ: Syllabus, and come to class with any questions or clarifications

Read: http://www.wright.edu/~elliot.gaines/ambiguityssa.htm


Role in Society



Social Awareness

READ: https://eokhardahreview.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword-2/

DUE: Media Diet Assignment must be emailed before each class

Jan 21

Ethical Issues in Mass Media

READ: http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/3833?e=lulemedia_1.0-ch14_s01

Media’s Reflection

On our


Jan 26


READ: TBA Via Sakai

Jan 28

Cultural Selection for interviews and news stories

READ: TBA Via Sakai



Feb 2

Why we hate the Media!

(Final Project Topic Approval)

READ: 48 Reasons to Distrust and Despise the Media


Feb 4

Cyber Attacks

READ: TBA Via Sakai



Feb 9

What Causes Cult Followings? Research Report Updates and Consultations

READ: TBA Via Sakai



Spoiler Alert Culture

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Audio and Video: Seeing and hearing is believing

Feb 16

Importance of Video and Audio in today’s media (Ray Rice – Donald Sterling)

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Feb 18

Guest Speaker

READ: TBA Via Sakai


In Media

Feb 23

There’s an app for that!

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Feb 25


READ: TBA Via Sakai

We the Media

Mar 1

The art of creating a great digital media footprint

READ: TBA Via Sakai


Sports and Entertainment Awards/Popularity contests?

READ: TBA Via Sakai


The Media Today

Mar 8

Guest Speaker

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Mar 10


The Engineering

Of Consent

Mar 22


READ: http://provokateur.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/The-Engineering-of-Consent.pdf

Mar 29

Research Projects Draft

READ: TBA Via Sakai

The Future of Media

Apr 5

Final Project Consultations

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Apr 7

Guest Speaker

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Media Effects

Apr 12

Your Updated Media Diet

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Apr 14


READ: TBA Via Sakai

Current Issues

Apr 19

Work Day

READ: TBA Via Sakai

Apr 21

Final Research Projects Due


Apr 26

Final Class – Course Evals/Wrap Up

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