POLS 306: The Mass Media and Politics
Online for distance education
Dr. Rebecca J. Hannagan
Course Objective: In this class we will broadly examine
media-based politics in the
Media-based Politics for Citizens: In the year 2008, 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 examine the political implications of an image-based media environment. Instant and continuous connectivity are important features of internet-based forms of media as well. 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.
Note: This course is designed for online delivery. Everything you need to complete the course, beyond the books to be obtained from the University Bookstore, will be posted on Blackboard. Your ability to use web-based technology is required for this class (i.e. use search engines such as Google to find information, visit websites, and download video clips, etc.). I highly recommend that you have access to high-speed internet. Dial-up internet access may prove incredibly frustrating for accessing course material.
“Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide” with DVD by Shanto Iyengar and Jennifer A. McGrady
“Featuring Females: Feminist Analyses of Media” by Ellen Cole and Jessica Henderson Daniel
The books are available from the University Bookstore.
I will also post a series of Power Point slides for each section and links to videos that you will have to view in tandem with each set of readings and Power Point slides. The Iyengar and McGrady book comes with a DVD that you will also need for viewing videos. All power points and video links will be listed in order under “Course Documents” on Blackboard.
Calculation of Grades:
Your grade in this course will consist of your performance on three exams (one following each section), and class “participation” via the Blackboard discussion board. You will be asked to answer a question following each substantive section of readings, etc. You will need to provide your own response as well as respond to 3 of 4 of your classmates responses to each discussion.
The following is a breakdown of how the grades will be weighted:
Exam 1 25%
Exam 2 25% Participation 25%
Exam 3 25%
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-
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 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
For important information on the Department of Political Science, please visit: http://polisci.niu.edu/
I. Democratic Foundations, the Rise of New Media, and the Behavior of the Press
The Press and Democratic Process
Discussion Board: Does the news actually educate the public? Cite examples for your responses.
The Rise of New Media
Discussion Board: Can political satire be political news? Explain your response.
The Media Marketplace
Discussion Board: In light of the theoretical democratic role of the press, and free-market principles, should media outlets be free to entertain the public?
Alternative Media – Political Music
Discussion Board: Is music a form of political speech or is it just entertainment? Explain your response.
Reporters, Official Sources, and the Decline of Adversarial Journalism
Discussion Board: Should news networks even worry about providing detailed political news since the really interested people find it elsewhere anyway?
Take Exam 1
II. Shaping the News: Candidates, Advocacy Groups, and Elected Officials
Campaigning Through the Media
Discussion Board: Based on your mini-content analysis, how were the candidates “framed”?
Discussion Board: Is media relations and public popularity getting in the way of governing? Cite examples in your response.
Take Exam 2
III. Media Effects
Gender and Media: Television and Film
Discussion Board: Although there are many reasons (historical,
personal choices, etc.), do you think there is any relationship between the
relatively few women serving in high-level political office in the
Gender and Media: Advertising
Discussion Board: Using the analysis discussed in your book, give an example of a recent ad you have seen and the gender or racial “narrative” in the ad.
Take Exam 3