Tel 101: Mass Communications Systems Research Paper Assignment Summer 2000

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TEL 101: Mass Communications Systems

Research Paper Assignment Summer 2000
The purpose of this paper is to engage you an in-depth research project in the field of telecommunications. As you have learned from the first few weeks of class, this is a broad field, in which many exciting developments are occurring on a daily basis. There are many topics you might choose to pursue. The topic selection up to you – you may have some burning question or area of interest we haven't addressed in class. Be creative in your approach to your topic. If you are unsure or simply not particular, you will find a list of possible topics at the end of this document from which you may choose.
You must use at least ten sources other than your textbook in writing your paper - more would be better. You should use primary sources whenever possible. Primary sources means original works on the subject, such as original legislation or FCC regulatory documents, public file documents from a radio or TV station, interviews with key sources, ratings information, etc. Also, you should spend a significant amount of time in the library finding as many sources as you can on your topic, such as books, journal articles, or technical information.
DO NOT rely in large measure on articles from magazines like Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report. These sources can be helpful, but they usually do not provide enough in-depth information. For that reason, at least five of your sources must be primary sources, in-depth books or academic and trade journal articles.
Use the Internet for your research, but remember that it is often difficult to determine the credibility of the information on a website. Check out this URL: Scroll down to the information resources links. The college librarian has provided several extensive lists of links for research in communications, and you should find a number of interesting ones there. Carefully cite these sources by noting the URL and the company or individual cited as the web page creator. Limit your use of websites to no more than five sources. There are exceptions to this rule for items that are merely reprinted on line, like journal articles, newspaper articles, and so forth. However, you MUST visit the library for this project, and any paper with no resources but those found on the net will be a failing paper.
You must properly cite your sources. Go to the library and look at the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association or buy one at the UK bookstore. Each citation in the list of references must have the name of the author, the date of publication, the title of the publication, page numbers and journal name (if an article), and publisher information. Any direct quote or idea taken from a source must be noted as such within the text. Use the style manual for directions for citing within the text, and be VERY CAREFUL! Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
Use 8.5" by 11" white bond paper. In this instance, ignore APA format and use one-inch margins. Use a standard 10 or 12 point font, and print your paper on one side of the page, double-spacing the lines. Number the pages, according to APA style. Don't bother with any kind of folder or report cover. They are a waste of money, paper, and plastic and they make it difficult to carry and file your papers. Save a copy of your paper on disk (or on hard copy) so that if it mysteriously disappears you can provide another copy.
Organize your paper carefully. Include an introduction, with an identifiable thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion. Connect your ideas with appropriate transitions. Write clearly, and proofread carefully (computers have spell checkers for a reason, but a spell checker won't correct you when you use "to" instead of "too" or "two"). Following is a suggested outline:

I. Introduction to the topic

– What is the issue under discussion?

– Why is it an important topic at this time?

(Is it currently a hot topic? Has it been a hot topic for some time? Is it a new technology that has just come on the scene? Make it sound interesting.)

– Thesis statement: "This paper will..."

II. Historical perspective on the topic

– What did your extensive research reveal about this topic?

– Where did this issue/topic originate, and what is its history?

– Organize your review of the info so that you address several topics in an orderly fashion.

– Try to address the issue from both the consumers' and the producers' point of view.
III. Current perspectives on the topic

– What's going on right now with this issue/topic?

– Why should we be interested in this topic today?

– What are the positions of the competing interests?

– What is the regulatory environment and how is it changing?

– What are the implications for the future?

IV. Conclusion

– Brief restatement of the thesis

– Brief summary of what you found, and why it is important to study it

Here is a list of topics for your consideration and possible adoption.

Information Superhighway – effects on various aspects of mass media

Cable Television – transforming effects on industry, programming and society

Telephone and information services – transforming effects on electronic mass media

History, current issues, and future of AM and FM radio

HDTV – industry conflicts, technological issues, impact on broadcasting and society

DBS – industry conflicts, technological issues, impact on broadcasting and society

Microwave transmission – history, impact, and future in cable and broadcasting

Advertising – changes in technology and delivery, effectiveness, societal effects

Non-commercial broadcasting – history, current status, role in society, future

Non-commercial broadcasting – programming, role of CPB, PBS, NPR, PRI

Programming strategies in commercial TV

Programming strategies in commercial radio

Ratings – Nielsen, Arbitron, methods, uses and abuses

Media effects – history, major areas of study

Censorship – pornography, banning content, advertising, children's issues

FCC and the role of regulation

First Amendment issues – constitutional protections, libel, broadcast vs. print

Ownership of information – copyright, intellectual property, fair use

International models of broadcasting – compare and contrast

International issues – development in Third World countries, cultural imperialism

Traditional networks vs. new alternative networks – impact and interaction

Interactive and on-line services – impact on traditional media and on society

Consumer electronics – technology, uses and gratifications, impact on society

Important figures in the history of broadcasting – profiles, influence, innovations

Low-power TV stations – history, current uses, future

Pirate radio – national and international, social and governmental issues

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