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Fall „03 -- Course ID#14156 3:35-4:50 p.m. SCI 201
Class web site:
J. T. Johnson, professor
Phones: 505-577-6482 (h/c) and 338-7431 (office-rarely checked)
Office Hrs. (HUM 525): Mon. & Wed. 2-3:15 p.m.; Tues 2:30-3:30 p.m.;
                        By appointment is best


You may not have given it much analytic thought, but you are being loaded with a
tsunami of messages and images suggesting messages from the media every moment
of your waking day. In this course, we will be considering where those messages and
images come from, who puts them together, and how they have an impact upon your
life and society.

At the end of the semester -- if you have done the reading, completed the assign-
ments and taken part in class discussion -- you will have enough background to be a
very shrewd and questioning recipient of all those messages. You will know why those
words and pictures are delivered as they are, who the intended audiences are, and,
some of the time, how those audiences will react to those messages. You also will
know a lot about journalism, broadly defined, should you be interested in a career in
the trade.

We will begin by reading and talking about some elementary communications theory.
Then we will begin to investigate a variety of media. The course will be, I hope, intel-
lectually demanding: I will be disappointed if I don't think you have had to stretch
your minds. It also will be fun.

Important Class web sites:
    Yahoo! Groups:
    Blackboard (only to take quizzes)
       Turow Textbook homepage:
       Turow ACE quizzes to prepare for graded quizzes:
        The username/login: joeturow Password: mediatoday
       Fast uide to Tutorials [on just about any software application],,sid9_gci532335,00.html


My objective is to limit your book costs to $100 per course.

       Turow, Joseph. "Media Today: an introduction to Mass Communications” 2nd
        edition [Be sure you get the second edition]

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       The New York Times

Books & resource cost                        New Price       Used Price       Notes
            Turow: “Media Today”             $77.40          $55.80           If buying used, be
     Standage : Victorian Internet:          $12.00          $9.00            sure to get Tu-
                          NYTimes            $22 p/m         $22 p/m          row‟s 2nd edition
                      SF Chronicle           $16.65 p/s      $16.65 p/s       (2003)
                         Total               $128.05         $103.45


I hope you have noted the footnote that should have been attached to the listing for
this course in the course schedule. Should it not be there, it should have said: "Stu-
dents should sign up for a university computer account before semester begins at
Academic Computing, Adm. 110, or online."

If you‟ve gotten this far, you probably have an e-mail address, so we‟re in good shape.
The entire information environment is changing rapidly, especially for journalists and
scholars. Consequently, to help you become accustomed to that digital world, I will
rarely give you any ink-on-paper (IoP) handouts. Most everything you need is found
on this web site. If you don't have a SFSU e-mail address, and check your mail and
this URL every day, you will simply be out of the information loop. Take some time to
explore this site. It will be used for a lot of data and information exchange throughout
the semester.

If you don't have an SFSU e-mail account, click here and fill out the application form.

Then, be sure to go immediately to

Please fill out the "unofficial registration" form there and click the "submit" button to
send it to me so I will know who‟s who in this class.

Next, you need to join this free Yahoo! Groups site. This is where all the content for
the course will be stored and managed.

               Click here (or go here) to subscribe to the J200 class web site:
               NOTE: You may ONLY use an SFSU e-mail address to enroll in
                this site. You can access your SFSU e-mail at

To send e-mail to the entire class, address it to:

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The course calendar -- found under the menu button "Course Documents" on the far
left -- indicates the various reading assignments in the text, Media Today, by Joseph
Turow, plus other readings that are posted to the web site. I expect you will have read
the daily assignment before coming to class. (Be sure to do a little reading each day
instead of trying to cram it all in at the end of the week or semester.)

I also expect you to read The New York Times [] each day, either
online or the IoP version. If you choose to read it online (but I recommend a regular
subscription), you will have to "enroll" with the online version (remember your login
name and password), but its content is free online on the day of publication. The
Times is a good way to keep track of the world‟s news, and especially major stories
about the media.

You also will find it useful to be familiar with standard trade and research publications
such as: Editor & Publisher, Broadcasting and Cable, Advertising Age, Online Journal-
ism Review; Publishers Weekly, Writers Digest, Presstime, Columbia Journalism Re-
view, American Journalism Review, Journal of Communications, Journal of Broadcast-
ing and Electronic Media, Quill, ASNE [American Society of Newspaper Editors] publi-
cations, Journalism Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, Utne Reader Media; Critical
Studies in Mass Communication, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Newspaper Research
Journal, Mass Comm Review, Journal of Popular Culture, News Media and the Law,
Journal of Marketing, Public Relations Journal, News Photographer and Folio. Many, or
most, of these are now online, so you can read most of their content there. (I‟ve in-
cluded the links to Editor & Publisher and American Journalism Review because they
both are good "jump stations" to newspapers, magazines and media trade press

It is important that you attend all the class sessions and do all the reading because
the bulk of your grade will depend on your quiz scores plus your class participation.
Obviously, you must attend the classes and visit the online site in order to participate.
Also, my lectures are designed to enlarge upon -- not directly repeat -- material from
the text. You, however, will be responsible for knowing all the text material and the
lecture material for quizzes or exams.

You also should read at least one local daily newspaper (probably the SF Chronicle)
and one weekly news magazine and watch one of the local and national news shows
daily because the weekly quizzes will usually include current events questions. These
will be simple -- multiple-choice, true and false or short answer – quizzes, but, collec-
tively, they are a majority of your grade. You will also be doing two short papers, crit-
ical essays on an historic newspaper (pre-1945) and an historic magazine (pre-1925).
These papers should follow a standard format such as that described at

There also will be an online final exam.

Completing BICR or OASIS

Learning to use information effectively is an important part of this class. SFSU requires
all undergraduate students to complete their Basic Information Competence Require-
ment (usually fulfilled by completing the OASIS tutorial at by
the end of their first year. However, for this class you will need to complete the re-
quirement by Sept. 22, just a few weeks away. Making this deadline is required to

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earn better than a “D” in course no matter how good your other grades. For more in-
fo, see:


Much of your grade in the course depends on your grades on the quizzes. And those
often depend on how well you take notes on your readings and on the lecture. Here
are a couple good sources of tips on how to be a good note-taker.



All work must be submitted before or on the deadline. LATE WORK WILL NOT BE

There will be a short exam every week. At least twelve or thirteen exam/quizzes will
be given; I will drop the grades of the lowest two or three when computing your final
grade. There usually will be 10- or 20-questions covering the assigned readings, lec-
tures the previous week and current events in the news, often from The New York
Times. The cumulative value of the quizzes will be 75 percent of your grade. I reserve
the right to raise or lower your final grade one notch (e.g. a B to a B+) based on your
participation in class and online. NO INCOMPLETES ARE GIVEN.

Collectively, the grading breakdown is

                                 Original Cal-     Adjusted Calculation
        Grade elements
                                   culation             (11-24-03)
Quizzes                         60 percent         70 percent
Newspaper critique              10 percent         10 percent
Newspaper Web Evaluation        10 percent
Magazine critique               10 percent         10 percent
OASIS & Plagarism Form          5 percent          5 percent
Final exam                      5 percent          5 percent
Total                           100                100

Despite the tools on Blackboard, I don‟t like its grade book very much and don‟t use it,
so it will be up to you to keep track of your own grades, should there be any questions
come the end of the semester.

The University's grading policy (and mine, as well) can be found here:

A = Outstanding work ("...truly unusual accomplishment....")

B = Above average work ("exceptional accomplishment")

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C = Average performance ("successful completion of all course requirements, no sig-
nificant weaknesses..." [A "C" or "C+" in the Journalism Department should not be in-
terpreted as a poor grade.]

D = Below average ("completion of course requirements but with significant weak-

F = Failure ("course requirements not met.")

As to the question, "Should grades represent quality and a level of accomplishment?
Or effort? Or progress?" Here‟s what the university says:

    "A. Grades are assumed to reflect the instructor's judgment of the quality of the
        student's performance. Grades should not merely be awarded for effort, atten-
        dance, native ability, etc., notwithstanding the fact that all of these may affect
        performance and become part of the evaluation.

    "B. Students may not be guaranteed 'at least a "C" or "B,"’ etc. in advance or by a
        contract related solely to the quantity of assignment completed, as evaluation
        is a post-performance function rather than a pre-performance contract."

Class attendance is mandatory. Makeup work may be done only with permission of the
instructor and must be completed within one week after the student's return to class.


My first and, I hope, my last word about plagiarism. It is often easy to detect when
you have submitted work that is not your own; when you have bought a term paper or
lifted material directly from another work. It is, of course, permissible to use material
from other sources, but those sources must be fully cited (in footnotes and with attri-
bution in the text). If you‟re unclear on just what constitutes plagiarism, see:


If I can prove to my satisfaction that you are guilty of plagiarism, I will conclude that
you have not completed all the assignments necessary to pass this course. Among
other things.

This university and especially this department consider plagiarism a most serious
breach of trust and, in fact, a crime. Personally, if I detect an act of plagiarism, I will
do all I can to get a student removed from the Journalism Department and the univer-
sity. So there is no confusion, print out and read the document at this URL: Then sign the last page and turn it in to
me at the second class meeting

My office is in HUM 525. My office hours are:
    Mon. & Wed. 2-3:15 p.m.; Tues 2:30-3:30 p.m.; By appointment is best
    If these hours are not convenient for you, don't hesitate to ask me for an ap-
        pointment at some other time. My office phone number is 338-7431 (rarely
        checked; use my home/cell phone number), and the number of the Journalism
        Dept. is 338-1689 if you need to leave a message. My mailbox is in the Jour-

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    nalism Department mailroom (HUM 307). My home/cell phone is 505-577-
   Feel free to call me at home anytime after 10 a.m. and until midnight


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