Course Description:

The purpose of this class is to explore the social, political, and economic implications of new media technologies. First, we will study specific technologies and trace the growth of some major ones, such as digital television, satellites, computers, and the Internet. Next, we will examine the development of regulating agencies and recent laws that impact and control these technologies. We explore how life in the digital age will affect our conceptions of privacy, copyright, and relationships. We will then turn to examine media conglomeration, ownership, and globalization.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the semester you should:

  • Be able to critically assess the impact of new technologies on society.
  • Understand the impact of media conglomeration, and how new regulations will impact society.
  • Understand the global interconnectedness of media systems, including the effects of American media abroad as well as the effects of globalization on local media
  • Have first-hand experience exploring new technology. In particular, have participated in an on-line community and analyzed your experiences doing so throughout the semester.
  • Have completed an extensive research paper and gain a special knowledge of a particular contemporary issue or phenomenon within society.
  • Developed your critical analyses skills, writing skills, research skills, and have increased your interest/knowledge of our changing media environment.

Class Website

The class website is located at:

The syllabus/schedule for this course evolves somewhat over the course of the semester, so be sure to check the online version frequently to keep current with reading assignments, etc.


All reading materials will be made available through the class website.

Grade Weights - details below

Participation 10% [includes in-class work]
Reading Responses 15%
Presentation of a reading and discussion handout: 10%
Peer Reviews 5%

Final Project
Research Proposal 5%
Literature Review 10%
Rough Draft 5%
Final Paper 25%
Final Presentation 15%

Participation 10%
Attendance and participation are essential for you to do well in this course. Attendance will be taken in each class, and more than 1 absence will result in a drop in your final grade. More than 3 absences (excused or unexcused) will jeopardize your ability to pass this class. It is also necessary for you to participate in each class. Vibrant participation allows all members of the class (including the professor) to benefit from the exchange of ideas, questions, and criticism of the readings. If you find that you are uncomfortable, you need to see me during my office hours to discuss alternative contributions to the class. Coming in late or leaving early is noted as a 1/2 absence.

Quick Writes - occasionally I will give "pop" in-class writing assignments, in which you will be asked to make critical reflections on the day's readings.

Reading Responses 15%
One-page Essays - you will write 3 one-page essays over the course of the semester. Each essay will be based on one or more of the assigned readings and is due no later than one class after the reading was due.

  • topics: You will decide what to focus each essay on. Each essay must have both a thesis and evidence (data, quotes, examples, etc from the readings)

  • format: Your essay must fit onto one page of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper - default settings please (Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced, 1 inch margins)

Presentation of reading and discussion questions: 10%
Next week, each of you will have an opportunity to volunteer with 2 classmates to lead discussion during one of our classes during the semester. Look ahead in the syllabus and consider which one you are particularly interested in offering your insights on and presenting to your classmates. (Those who do not take the opportunity to volunteer will be assigned a week.) On the day or your class you will bring to class 22 copies of a two page document that presents the following:

  1. A summary of the articles and their main points. (In paragraph form - no bullet points.)
  2. A minimum of six well-thought out questions that will spark conversation that evening. At least two of these should link the weeks readings to other reading we have done up to that point in the class or for the evening. Open-ended questions that encourage us to push beyond the reading to a consideration of future implications will be particularly appreciated and fruitful.

You will distribute a copy of this to each member of the class and then lead our discussion of that reading/topic for the first part of class. NOTE: If you are absent on the day of your assigned reading or are not prepared with the handout to discuss it, you will fail this assignment and an "F" will be factored into your final course grade.

Peer Reviews 5%
This course has a peer review component. You will be part of a team of 3 students. For the two stages leading up to your final paper (Research Proposal, and Lit Review) you will be required to provide written and verbal feedback of your classmates work.

Final Project
During the semester, while we as a class explore new technology and how changes in communication technology impact society, you will be working individually to further examine an aspect of the new media environment. You will pick a subject to focus on and conduct a research project where you analyze this topic in a number of ways. You will examine research already completed on this subject (secondary research) and you will incorporate an interview with a person relevant to your topic (primary research). Your sources should be wide-ranging and varied, including books, articles from scholarly journals, newspaper and magazine articles, technology blogs and trade journals for communication professionals.

You will have a significant amount of flexibility in choosing this topic so you should pick one that interests you or could help you learn more about new media in a field that you are considering for your career. In other words, this paper will be as useful to you as make it. In previous classes, students have used the paper they wrote to obtain a job, an internship, or to apply to graduate programs. You should plan to spend time in the next month looking over our entire course schedule and thinking deeply about what you would like to investigate to ensure that the topic you take on is sufficiently interesting to sustain a semester-long focus. Sample topics and areas will be discussed in class and I encourage you to engage me in discussions about possible topics well in advance of the prospectus due date.

To aid you in deciding upon a topic and developing your paper in a timely manner throughout the semester, I have broken the process down into several specific assignments. Note that these assignments are mandatory and failure to complete them will jeopardize both your final grade and also the quality and success of your final essay (since you will deny yourself feedback from your peers and me.)

note: The final essay should be submitted in no larger than 12pt. type, double-spaced, number pages and STAPLED in the upper left hand corner.

Research Proposal 5% - due February 22
In a two-page document present your project as you are currently thinking about it. The first section should be a narrative of what brought you to your subject, what interests you about it and why you want to investigate it further. The next section should pose the issue you are going to research further and the various areas you will explore as you work towards the creation of your essay. This section should include at least six questions through which you will approach your topic. The last section should discuss your research strategy. Indicate possible readings/sources and possible candidates for the interview component of the final paper.

Literature Review 10% - due March 15
In this 5-7 page paper you will review secondary sources relevant to your field of inquiry. Your research should include a minimum of 8 sources, 2 of which may be readings assigned from class. This paper should do more than simply summarize the sources you select. Rather you should attempt to draw connections between them and how they relate to your research topic. We will discuss the form of this paper in more detail during class.

Rough Draft (includes interview) 5% - due April 12
The rough draft of your paper should include analysis of an interview conducted with an individual relevant to your field of inquiry. We will discuss the form of this paper in more detail during class.


  • Identify and contact the person you would like to interview.
  • Prepare a set of questions around your research focus.
  • Conduct and record a live interview.
  • Prepare a transcript of your interview and write up your analysis.

Be sure to turn in the raw transcript of your interview.

Final Paper 25% - due May 10th
Your 15-20 page paper with a complete list of works cited.

Final Presentations 15% - due May 10th or May 17th
Details to be discussed later in the semester.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments for this course must either enroll in the Program for Academic Access or register with the Office of Student Support Services. For any accommodation, the instructor must be presented with either a letter from the Assistant Director of the Program for Academic Access or an Accommodations Card from the Office of Student Support Services during the first week of classes.

Academic Honesty

MMC fosters an academic community where students and faculty work together to create a learning experience that imparts knowledge and forms character. All work submitted should be done by the student in preparation for this specific class (for example, you may not hand in a paper for this class that you are also preparing for another class). Plagiarism and cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Students will jeopardize their grade not just for the assignment but also for the entire course. If a student has difficulty understanding how to cite sources or has questions concerning the above, contact the professor as soon as possible. The College requires all members of the community to adhere to the policy of Academic Honesty that can be found in the Student Handbook, the College Catalogue and on the College website.

Grading Standards for in-class assignments:

0 - Inadequate. You did not respond, you were absent, or your response clearly indicates you did not do the reading and are unprepared and unable to contribute.

1 - Fair. You need to demonstrate more clearly that you read and understand the material and to more thoughtfully interact with the questions and the class.

2 - Good. You have read the material and can thoughtfully reflect upon it and consider the context of the question/task in your response.

3 - Excellent. You demonstrate a solid understanding of the reading, can move beyond it to thought-provoking questions or carefully considered responses.

Grading Standards for written work:

Some kind of "C"
Proposes and explores an adequate, if not particularly creative, opinion about the topic.
Uses adequate, if somewhat superficial evidence.
Demonstrates knowledge of the course material and perspective that may be a bit cursory.
Relies heavily on course material or minimal secondary sources.
Work reflects competence, but stays at a general or predictable level of understanding.
Citations are mostly correct, although some irregularities in MLA form may be present.
Some irregularities in style and grammar, but not so extreme as to interfere with meaning.

Some kind of "B" - fulfills all of the above, and also...
Proposes and explores an insightful opinion about the topic.
Demonstrates a complete and accurate understanding of the pertinent issues and concepts.
Uses detailed evidence from a variety of sources skillfully.
Presents a reasonable degree of insight and broad level of analysis.
Sources are used appropriately and with discretion to contribute to a more complete and original discussion than the average paper.
Reduces errors in grammar to a minimum.

Some kind of "A" - fulfills all of the above, and also...
Offers an original voice on the subject/sheds new light on the topic.
Demonstrates comprehensive and solid understanding of the pertinent issues and concepts..
Uses a variety of detailed sources and shows creativity and tenacity in its intellectual inquiry.
Use of source material is skillful and sophisticated.
Demonstrates logical reasoning, effective organization, and substantial development.
The style of writing is polished and creative.
Grammatical errors are essentially nonexistent.

A "D"
Failure to minimally address all tasks in the assignment.
Demonstrates a serious lack of understanding, and fails to express the most rudimentary aspects of an approach to the topic.
Inappropriate use of citations such as to throw into question the ability or intention of the writer to properly give credit to his/her sources.
Simplistic treatment of the topic, as indicated by one or more of the following conditions: reiterating material from another source without providing interpretation or commentary; unsupported generalizations or meaningless specifics; "parroting" of an idea from a previously read source; "borrowing" the structure of another writer's discussion of the topic.
Frequent writing errors such as to interfere with the reader's understanding.

Failure - "F"
Work never submitted/submitted more than one week late.
Work is plagiarized.
Work has been submitted for another class.

Other policies and things to avoid:

Late Assignments: Assignments submitted up to one week after their due date will be accepted with a lowering of the grade one full level (a late prospectus that would have merited a B+ will be factored into your final grade as a C+.) Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted and an "F" will be factored into the final grade for that percentage. There is no possibility of submitting the rough draft more than two days late due to the timing of the conferences, and as that assignment is pass/fail, late rough drafts will receive a "D" and also receive less of my consideration due to the time crunch that they will create. Please note that illness on the day of class is NOT an acceptable excuse for a late assignment. You have the entire course schedule and due dates well ahead of time - PLAN AHEAD.

Also: I will not, NEVER, EVER accept assignments via email. I won't open attached files. Don't try it!!!!!!*

*This also applies to the recent phenomenon of "I know you don't accept assignments via email but I emailed you anyway to prove that I did it on time and I will print it out and get you a hard copy later." If it's not physically in my hands in class the day it is due it is LATE. This especially applies to "I don't have my 'Works Cited' page but will email it to you." (No, you may not.)