The Mass Media and Politics

 

POLS 306                                                                                           Dr. Rebecca J. Hannagan

Fall 2007                                                                                             406 Zulauf Hall

T/TH 12:30-1:45                                                                                rhannaga@niu.edu

 

Course Objective: 

In this class we will broadly examine media-based politics in the United States both among citizens and between political elites and the public.  We will pay special attention to the presence (or absence) of gender and race and consider the implications for American democracy.

 

Media-based Politics for Citizens:  In the year 2007 it seems like you are nobody if you are not on television or have a web presence (i.e. consider the current fascination with reality t.v., online social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, and the explosion of YouTube).  Image and images are everything.  In this class we will talk about the political implications of an image-based media environment.  Instant and continuous connectivity are an important feature of internet-based forms of media as well, and this also has political implications.  Once considered a promising new frontier, we will examine whether e-democracy is living up to democratic ideals.

 

Media-based Politics for Leaders:  No longer confined to elections and campaigns, media appeals have become standard fare in the day-to-day conduct of government.  Such appeals are used by private interests as well as by official decision makers to further partisan and self-serving objectives.  Most politicians have a web presence and regularly appear on popular talk shows to “spin” issues in an attempt to appeal to the public.  In short, the use and misuse of media by political elites for political purposes has transformed the practice of leadership and governance and raises questions about democratic process and policy outcomes. 

 

Course Materials: 

 

“Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide” by Shanto Iyengar and Jennifer A. McGrady

 

“Featuring Females: Feminist Analyses of Media” by Ellen Cole and Jessica Henderson Daniel

 

You are expected to have your reading done each day before you come to class.  It is important that you come to class prepared to discuss the material. 

 

Calculation of Grades: 

Your grade in this course will consist of your performance on four exams, a blog you will create and maintain, homework assignments, and class attendance.  The following is a breakdown of how the grades will be weighted:

 

Exam 1                        15%                 Exam 4            20%                 Blog                15%                

Exam 2                        15%                 Homework      10%                 Attendance     10%

Exam 3                        15%                                                                                                                

 

 

I will adhere to the following grading scale:

100-97% = A+

89-87% = B+

79-77% = C+

69-67% = D+

59% < = F

96-93% = A

86-83% = B

76-73% = C

66-63% = D

 

92-90% = A-

82-80% = B-

72-70% = C-

62-60% = D-

 

 

General Information: 

Blackboard is your friend.  Check it often for announcements.  I reserve the right to modify the schedule in the interest of time or due to the difficulty of the material.  If I decide to modify the schedule I will notify the class immediately upon my decision and post an announcement on Blackboard.  If changes are made and you are not aware of them because you do not regularly attend class or choose to sleep during class there will be no exceptions made to accommodate you.  It is in your best interest to attend every class and pay attention to the material being covered.

 

No cell phone use during class (including text messaging).  Please turn your cell phones off (and not just on vibrate).  No laptop or pda use during class.  Do not text message, read the newspaper or sleep during class.  Do not come late or leave early.  These are inappropriate behaviors for a university class and are disruptive to your peers.  Be respectful of those who are interested in being active participants in their education. 

 

This syllabus is a contract between me (the professor) and you (the student).  The syllabus will be available on Blackboard throughout the semester for your reference.  If you have any questions about the policies set forth in the syllabus, I highly recommend that you talk to me during the first week of classes.  It is at that time that any significant changes can be made.  After that, if you choose to remain in the class I assume that you agree to the policies and procedures I have set forth in the syllabus. 

 

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.

 

For important information on the Department of Political Science, please visit: http://polisci.niu.edu/

 

Academic Dishonesty:  

The maintenance of academic honesty and integrity is of vital concern to the Department of Political Science and the University community. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty shall be subject to both academic and disciplinary sanctions.  If I find that you have plagiarized your academic work, you will receive an F on the assignment – no exceptions.  If you are caught cheating, falsifying, or otherwise misrepresenting your work twice you will fail the class.  In addition, if I suspect academic dishonesty your name will be turned over to the Chair of the Political Science Department who will make a determination as to further disciplinary action which may include academic probation or expulsion.

 

Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following: cheating, fabrication and falsification, plagiarism, and misrepresentation to avoid academic work. 

 

 

Tentative Schedule:

 

August 28:  Introduction and course overview

 

August 30:  No Class (I will be attending the American Political Science Association Conference)

 

I.          Democratic Foundations, the Rise of New Media, and the Behavior of the Press

 

September 4:  The Press and Democratic Process

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 17-44

 

September 6:  The Media Marketplace

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 48-81

 

September 11:  The Media Marketplace

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 48-81

 

September 13:  The Rise of New Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 105-124

 

September 18:  The Rise of New Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 105-124

 

September 20:  The Rise of New Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 105-124

 

September 25:  Reporters, Official Sources, and the Decline of Adversarial Journalism

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 85-102

 

September 27:  Reporters, Official Sources, and the Decline of Adversarial Journalism

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 85-102

 

October 2:  Exam 1

 

II.        Shaping the News:  Candidates, Advocacy Groups, and Elected Officials

 

October 4:  Campaigning Through the Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 127-163

 

October 9:  Campaigning Through the Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 127-163

 

October 11:  No Class (I will be attending the “Association for Politics and the Life Sciences” Conference)

 

October 16:  Campaigning Through the Media

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 127-163

 

October 18:  Going Public

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 167-193

 

October 23:  Going Public

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 167-193

 

October 25:  Exam 2

 

III.       Media Effects

 

October 30:  Gender and Media: Television and Film

  • Read Cole and Daniel pp. 59-83 and 199-208 and 131-139 and 169-182

 

November 1:  No Class (I will be attending a Liberty Fund Conference on “The Evolution of Moral Sentiments”)

 

November 6:  Gender and Media:  Television and Film

  • Read Cole and Daniel pp. 59-83 and 199-208 and 131-139 and 169-182

 

November 8:  Gender and Media:  Advertising

  • Read Cole and Daniel pp. 85-97 and 185-197

 

November 13:  Gender and Media:  Advertising

  • Read Cole and Daniel pp. 85-97 and 185-197

 

November 15:  Gender and Media:  Video Games

  • Read Cole and Daniel pp. 115-128

 

November 20:  Exam 3

 

November 22:  No Class (Thanksgiving Holiday)

 

November 27:  News and Public Opinion

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 197-227

 

November 29:  Campaigns that Matter

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 237-266

 

December 4:  The Consequences of Going Public

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 270-289

 

December 6:  The Consequences of Going Public

  • Read Iyengar and McGrady pp. 270-289

 

Final Exam:  TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating your Blogsite:

 

  1. Go to:  http://uniblogs.org/

 

2.      In about the middle of the page you will see where University Students can click to “Start Here” to create a blog.

3.      Click there and enter a user I.D., email address, and answer the security question.  Then hit “Next.”

4.      The next page will give you your domain name.  You can use the one they give you (your user I.D. from the previous page) or add a new one.  Whatever you choose to do it cannot be changed.  Once you decide WRITE THIS DOWN!  You will have to give me this address so I can grade your work.

You also have to name your blogspace.  I would prefer you give it a name such as POLS 306, or, The Mass Media and Politics.  Something so that I can tell it is for this class.

You can also have your blogspace searchable on the web (i.e. via Google, etc) but you don’t have to.

5.      Finally, you have to activate your blogspace.  Check the inbox of the email account you signed up with.  Click the link provided and you should be good to go.  If you don’t activate within 2 days you will have to sign up again.

 

6.      Send to me your URL.  For example, mine is: rjhannagan.uniblogs.org

This is how I will access your blog to grade your work each week.  Let me know ASAP if you have issues because if you don’t do this work throughout the semester you will be very disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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