Communication and Media Studies 335

COMS 335: Media and Society

Prerequisites: COMS 130 or permission of instructor.

Credit Hours: (3)

Investigation of the impact of mass media on society; discussion of theoretical concepts, political and social issues related to promotion, distribution, programming and advertising.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course examines how mass media effect society, and how economic, political and social forces effect the contact of the media. While the emphasis is placed on commercial and non-commercial media in the United States, comparative media organizations and cultures are examined.


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The course will be a combination of lecture, debate/discussion and individual or group research. Significant exposure to reading, research articles and mass media programs and advertising will take place.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. To analyze the reciprocal relationship between mass media and value formation in society (mirror/reality).
2. To distinguish between the impacts of different mass media, such as radio, television, film, magazines and computer networks. Consideration of concepts of transience, intrusiveness, scheduling, prime time, placement, etc.
3. To describe the impact of mass media on the development of children in the formative years, perception of roles, stereotypes, distinction between fact and fiction, commercial messages and program messages, etc.
4. To discuss the powerful influence of advertising on consumerism and particularly the problems of planed obsolescence, constant search for novelty, instant gratification, and immediate/simplistic solutions, etc.
5. To analyze the accuracy of the images, roes, relationships and environments portrayed in the mass media, specifically, women, Afro-Americans, and ethnic minority stereotypes.
6. To understand the development and demise of powerful monopolies in electronic media broadcasting, cablecasting, and the video industry and alternatives of private ownership and independence.
7. To discuss mass media and contemporary ethical concerns (rape, contraception, sexuality, nudity, pornography, First Amendment rights, Maranda rights, police brutality, privacy, etc.)
8. To reassess the role of mass media and the democratic ideal, the political process and the election of leaders (political commercials, agenda setting, gate keeping).
9. To understand and apply most of the following major and minor theories:

  • Symbolic Interactionism, Adoption and Diffusion, Systems, Uses and Gratification, Persuasion & Attitude Formation, Peer Pressure, Convergence, Agenda Setting, Gate Keeping, Stimulus and Response, Selective Perception, Psychoanalytical, Repetition & Imitation Learning, Desensitizing, etc.


Assessment Measures

Attendance is regarded as essential as participation in class discussion is a vital part of the learning process. Role will be taken each day and attendance will influence as much as 5% of the final grade. Students will be held to deadlines. Half a letter grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late. There will be midterm and final examinations based on readings, discussion and research. There is one research paper, which will be based on a selected topic. There will be a formal debate within groups of six students. Students will be required to poll at least ten male and ten female adult persons about a topic of his or her choice.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

Joe Flickinger, Chair

May, 2011