Instructor: Ross Collins, Ph.D.
Office: Minard 321A
Telephone: 17295; e-mail: Ross.Collins@ndsu.edu. E-mail messages encouraged! Understanding Media (COMM 112) is designed for communication majors and interested students who want to know more about the people who tell them what's going on, and how they do it. We'll take a look at the basic media (can you name them?) to see how they developed, and how they tell you just about everything you know about the world. We'll also look at aspects of some media in greater detail, especially those most important to students majoring in communication. After you leave this course in December, you should know:
As well, the instructor realizes that it's so easy for us to just skip all the assigned book chapters, and try to cram them in the night before the exam. But psychologists say the best way to learn is gradually.
To encourage you to learn in smaller bites, you'll have an opportunity to improve your grade (called a quiz by traditional instructors) each Friday, based on material found in that week's reading. If you skip, YOU CAN'T MAKE UP THE QUIZ. In addition, we'll do an in-class assignment from time to time. These also can't be made up, because a "deadline" is part of the assignment.
Okay, so you want a little slack? How about this: skip two quizzes or in-class exercises and the missed grades won't be counted. Think of it as your bank account of skips. If you should happen to be one of those students who has nothing better to do than come to class every time, the instructor will drop your two lowest quiz grades.
John Vivian, The Media of Mass Communication, Fifth Edition. Nice to know: the text was written by a genial man from a state university in that liberal state to the east of North Dakota who once was a faculty member at UND.
Expect two exams during term, and a final. The final will not be comprehensive,
but will include questions borrowed from previous tests.
Grading system: grades are computed on a curve, based on mathematical calculation of percentage weights. Grades received will not be discussed in class, to preserve confidentiality. If you have questions, drop by during office hours, or by e-mail. Grading: First exam, 15 percent; second, 20 percent. Final: 30 percent. Quizzes, other assignments: 35 percent.
The class e-mail list!
You are invited to sign up for the COMM112 Listserv. Each week I'll post a synopsis of that week's lectures, old quizzes for review, and other things you may find useful. What's more, you can post your own media-related comments and questions for group discussion. To encourage you to join in the discussion, I'll give you one point of extra credit for each class-related post you make. The key is class-related: you don't get credit for unhelpful comments such as "Where's the party tonight!?" Or "I got sooo drunk last weekend...." Are we being clear?
Introduction, survey of the media. Read chapters 1 and 2.
News-gathering: how it works. Read chapters 3 and 4.
Climbing pyramids (inverted). Read chapter 10.
Writing break; development of radio. Read chapters5, 6 and 7.
Photography, visual communication psychology. Read chapters 8 and 9.
Visual elements, design. First exam; (no quiz).
The big grin: techniques of PR. Read chapter 11.
Public relations continued, propaganda.
Propaganda, intro to advertising. Read chapter 12.
Advertising, persuasion cont. Read chapter 15.
Media power and influence, television. Read chapter 14.
Media influence, cont. Read chapter 17. Second exam (no quiz).
Media influence, cont. Writing for broadcast. Read chapters 16 and 17.
Ethics and law for the media. Really. Read chapters 18 and 19.
Media ethics and law, cont. Media research. Read chapter 13.
Final exam period.
And now a word from our university....
Want to know more?
Here are just a few of my favorite classics among a huge library of possibilities:
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media. 1964.
Susan Sontag, On Photography. 1977.
John L. Hulteng, The News Media. What Makes Them Tick? 1979.
Michael Schudson, Discovering the News. 1978.
Return to resources page.