Assignments Summary

Here’s a summary of what assignments are due each week so you have a quick way to see what’s coming up. We’re compressing a regular 15 week semester into six for this summer course, which requires us to cover multiple topics in some weeks.

***Assignments are due Sunday at midnight at the end of the week they are assigned.***

Week 1 — Mass Communication, Culture, and Media Literacy
May 22

ASSIGNMENT 1: Watch a movie or TV show and submit a 500 word story on your worldview/personal status before your engagement with the medium and after.  Note what were you thinking about before you watched the program?  They describe what you’re thinking about after?  Be specific about how exactly the program affected what you were thinking about after the program.  I’m looking for change.  How did it change you, or at least what you were thinking about, even if just temporarily?  Did it make you more materialistic, more frightened of violence, feeling less satisfied with your life?  Or did it have a positive effect on you somehow?  The Mass Media doesn’t always tell us what to think, but what to think about.

Week 2 — Convergence and the Reshaping of Mass Communication
May 29

ASSIGNMENT 2:  A political action committee is lobbying congress to get stricter on television because they claim it’s all a “vast wasteland.’  Submit a 600 word report in which you evaluate a specific television experience you’ve had in regard to its redeeming elements so our CEO can argue that TV can have a positive effect on society when he appears in front of congress next week.  What about your TV experience was beneficial to society?  Why was it not all bad?  For example, “I watched the PBS program NOVA and learned about worm holes.  This type of film shows that television is NOT entirely a vast wasteland.’

Week 3 — Books
June 5

ASSIGNMENT 3: The Smithsonian is opening a new exhibit to showcase people who have helped mold mass media.  This week we’re going to do a radio podcast on an interesting media figure they should include in their exhibit that clearly argues why this person should be in the exhibit in a compelling and/or funny way.  Choose a major mass media figure, either contemporary or historic, and write a two minute radio script on what this person has done to change mass media and arguing why they should be included in the exhibit.  Generally we’re talking about inventors and pioneers—people who significantly changed some element of the mass media—not just someone who was a celebrity of some sort.  To be successful on this assignment, you must convincingly argue how this person changed mass media.

You do not need to record this podcast, but if you can, it is ideal.  To post the audio file, upload it to a hosting service (i.e. Soundcloud) and add the link to your post.  Using embed codes to post audio files generally doesn’t work well on this site.  Just paste in the web link.

Week 4 — Newspapers / Magazines
June 12

ASSIGNMENT 4:  This week a major newspaper declared bankruptcy, claiming the Internet killed its revenue.  This week write a 90 second radio script in which you play the role of an existing medium confronting a new medium by writing them an angry letter complaining about their influence on the neighborhood.  “Dear Television, this is your neighbor magazines.  We’re so glad you moved into the neighborhood, but we’re a little upset at how you’re kind of hogging all our readers now…’  You should be describing examples of how that new medium has hurt the existing medium.  Do not write from the perspective of a previous form of a medium writing to it’s newer form, such as, “Dear Smartphone, this is landline.’  They are the same medium.

Turn in the script or post a link to your audio file in the assignment posting.

Week 5 — Film / Radio, Recording, and Popular Music
June 19

ASSIGNMENT:  Take the midterm exam.

Week 6 — Television, Cable, and Mobile Video / Video Games
June 26

ASSIGNMENT 5:  Honeycrisp, Inc. just announced a breakthrough new product that can read your body language and vital signs to determine what your favorite TV programming is and automatically change channels to programs you’ll like the best.  Submit a 700 word report on what this might mean for television programs in the future?  What might they look like?  Is this a good or bad thing for audiences/TV producers/society?

Week 7 — The Internet and Social Media / Public Relations
July 3

ASSIGNMENT 6:  A media mogul was called out this week for airing Video News Releases on her TV News channel without disclosing them.  To show the ubiquity of this type of behavior, create a radio report investigating a specific example of covert corporate influence in media through video news releases, press releases, etc.  Submit the script or, if you are able, record the podcast and post a link to it on your assignment posting.

Week 8 — Advertising
July 10

ASSIGNMENT:  None this week.

Week 9 — Theories and Effects of Mass Communication
July 17

ASSIGNMENT 7:  We’re doing a podcast this week on predictions for the future.  Write a two-minute radio script on a day in the life of the 22nd Century you focusing largely on your engagement with the mass media during the day.  I don’t really care what your shower is like or how you got to work, unless they are somehow connected to mass media.  Think carefully about this.  What indicators can you see now that may guide you in extrapolating what our future may be like?

Turn in the script or post a link to your podcast.

Week 10 — Media Freedom, Regulation, and Ethics
July 24

ASSIGNMENT 8:  We need you to write a 2000 word investigative report on a practice in the mass media that the general public is not aware of and would be appalled by.  Choose from a variety of topics or suggest your own on the discussion board.  Potential subjects include:

  • Investigate a specific advertorial in a newspaper or magazine and dig into who the author really is, how the ad is designed to mimic the rest of the periodical, etc.
  • Investigate product placement in a recent film or TV show and find out as much about the situation as you can, including how much the company paid to have the product in the film/show.

Do not do a paper on photoshopping cover models.  The general public is fully aware that this happens.  That story has been done to death.  You can do a story on other photomanipulation, but not on how cover models are modified to look unattainably beautiful.  If I have to read another story on that, I will claw my eyes out.

Week 11 — Global Media
July 31

ASSIGNMENT:  None this week.

Week 12 — Final Exam Week
August 7

ASSIGNMENT:  Take the Final Exam