Social Impact of the Mass Media
School: California State University, Monterey Bay
Professor: Raul Reis, Ph.D
HCOM 307 SL
How many times were you exposed to mass media today? You probably have heard the
statistics: except for the ones who are still bunkered up, waiting for the Y2K fallout,
Americans are exposed to hundreds of mass media messages every day. It is now a
widely accepted fact that we spend more time consuming mass media than doing
anything else, including sleeping, eating, working, or talking to our children (Massey
It used to be that only a few of us actually worried about the effects of that massive
exposure. Some very violent events in the past couple of years (Littleton, e.g.) are fast
changing that situation. These days, it seems that no matter where we turn to, someone is
blaming the media for society's violence, especially when children and teenagers are
responsible for it.
Are you easily impressed by what you watch on television? Are you one of those people
who think TV affects their neighbors but not themselves? What do you think about the
claim that children grow up to be violent adults if they watch too much TV? Do you think
we become "de-sensitized" to violence by watching too much violent programming?
These are just some of the pressing questions we will be examining in this class. While
our discussions will include many different forms of mass media, television is the
medium we will be talking about the most.
This is a service learning class. Besides reading about and discussing the social impact of
the mass media "theoretically," we will also engage in direct service in the surrounding
community. Our service learning community partners are Usar Chavez Elementary
School and the Media Literacy Alliance, Central Coast. Ten class sessions will be
conducted at our service learning site, Usar Chavez Elementary School, in Salinas. Those
Friday sessions will replace our scheduled Thursday meetings for those weeks.
During those service learning sessions, we will be leading a media literacy workshop that
has been specifically designed to raise awareness among grade school children. The
workshop will be an after-class activity for children 9 to 12 years old, who have been
selected and invited to participate by their teachers and administrators.
You and your classmates will be the ones leading the workshop sessions and facilitating
the discussions and other activities involving the children. Attendance to those service
learning sessions is mandatory and non-negotiable. (Remember that on those weeks we
will be meeting on Fridays, and not Thursdays).
In the weeks preceding the service learning sessions, we will be meeting on campus to
discuss and plan the media literacy curriculum we will be using. The Tuesday sessions
during the service learning weeks will be dedicated to reflection, planning, and
curriculum enhancement. In the weeks following the service learning sessions, we will be
meeting on campus to share and reflect on the whole experience. Throughout the
semester, we will be also discussing the theoretical aspects related to media consumption,
television viewing, and the general content of the course.
Our on-campus meetings will follow the "seminar" style. In other words, don't expect me
to lecture all the time all class members will share responsibilities for a productive
learning experience. Make sure you do the assigned readings, and be prepared to engage
in lively discussion and sharing of ideas.
Each one of you (with the -help of a classmate) will be responsible for conducting at least
one class session, in which the two of you will be expected to be the "experts" on the
topic assigned to you. Be knowledgeable, creative and engaging — your classmates and
myself will appreciate your effort. (If you need help or suggestions on how to facilitate
the discussion, I'll be happy to talk to you about it).
This course might be used to fulfill one of the following requirements:
HCOM MLO 5 Critical Cultural Analysis; or
One-third of the Journalism and Media Studies depth concentration.
This class also meets the Culture & Equity ULR requirement for transfer students.
If you're an HCOM major, the class automatically fulfills your upper division service
learning requirement. If you're not an HCOM major, ask your advisor about the SL
requirements for you r major.
For non-HCOM majors, the class can be used for upper division credits.
Some of the goals of this course include:
?Investigating and explaining relationships among cultural ideologies and sociohistorical
experiences, interests, identities, and actions of specific cultural groups.
?Analyzing different mass communication media (including new media technologies)
and their cultural impact on society.
Analyzing diverse theories that have been formulated to explain mass media's social
?Studying and interpreting various mass media products to better understand how those
cultural products influence audiences.
?Comparing how different cultural, ethnic and social groups have been portrayed by the
?Impact of Mass Media: Current Issues, by Ray Eldon Hiebert (ed.).
?Media /Society: industries, Images, and Audiences, by David Croteau &Williarn
?Television: The Critical View by Horace Newcomb (ed.).
Facing Difference: Race, Gender, and Mass Media, by Biagi and Kern-Foxworth (eds.).
No tests or exams are planned for this class. Instead, you will be required to complete the
projects described below. Each student should organize a class portfolio, where the
assignments (as well as your class notes, observations from the readings, and personal
journal) should be kept.
A. Class presentation of assigned topic : You and a classmate will be responsible for
leading the discussion of your assigned topic. Each topic will include at least one
required reading assigned by the instructor. If you want to assign any additional readings
for your session, make sure you do that in a timely manner. Be creative and engaging in
your presentation. This assignment was designed to assess outcomes # 3, 4 and 5. Due
date: Throughout the semester.
B. Personal Journal: You will keep a journal where you will record your service learning
experience, as well as your general feelings about the- class, the readings, the
discussions, our service learning "clients," and anything else relevant to the learning
experience. Make sure to keep detailed records of each service learning session, including
your very first impressions of the site and the children. Be sincere and creative -the
journal is meant to help you reflect on the whole learning experience. Be sure to record
your accomplishments, realizations and breakthroughs, as well as your frustrations and
difficulties. You will turn in your journals to me at least three times during the semester.
Assignment will assess outcomes # 1 and 5. Due date: Feb. 29, Mar. 28, and Apr. 25.
C. Reflective Essay: At the end of the semester, you will write a reflective essay in which
you will describe and analyze your class experience. The essay will be at least five pages
long, and it should contain an honest assessment of your service learning experience, as
well as an appraisal of what you learned throughout the semester. The personal journal
should help you to write a thorough and thoughtful reflective essay. Assignment will
assess outcomes # 1, 2 and 3. Due date: May 11.
Attendance /Participation 10%
Class Presentation 30%
Personal Journal 30%
Reflective Essay 30%
NOTE: Attendance to both class and service learning sessions is mandatory. Each
absence to an on-campus session will be deducted from your class participation grade.
Unjustified absences to one service learning session or four or more on-campus class
sessions will result in a failing grade.
Week Date Time Activity Place
1 Jan. 27 4 PM Introduction to Class CSUMB
Syllabus and Schedule Review
Group and presentation assignments
2.Feb. 1 4 PM Media and the Social World CSUMB
(Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 1)
How to enter/exit communities sensitively
Feb. 3 4 PM Introduction to "Beyond Blame" CSUMB
Movie: "The Truman Show"
3. Feb. 8 4 PM Economics of the Media Industry CSUMB
(Croteau & Hoynes, Ch.2) and "The Empire Strikes," by Ben Bagdikian
Feb. 10 4 PM Planning Lessons 1, 2 and 3 CSUMB
Feb. 12 8:30 AM Parent Orientation/ Parent Hour CCES
9:30 AM Orientation to CCES for CSUMB students
4.Feb. 15 4 PM Social Inequality and Media Representation CSUMB
(Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 5) and "Is It Just Me,
Or Do All These Women Look Like Barbie?," by Sheila Gibbons
Talk about your Media journal I
Feb. 17 4 PM Planning Lessons 4, 5 and 6 CSUMB
5.Feb. 22 4 PM Media and Ideology CSUMB
(Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 6); and "Prime TimeIdeology," by Todd Gitlin
Feb. 24 No on-campus meeting
Feb. 26 3 PM SL Session # 1 CCES
6.Feb. 29 4 PM Active Audiences and Construction of CSUMB
Meaning (Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 8) and"Understanding Television Audiencehood,"by
Talk about your Media journal II
First journal submission due
Mar. 2 – No on-campus meeting
Mar. 3 3 PM SL Session # 2 CCES
7.Mar. 7 4 PM Media in a Changing Global Culture CSUMB
(Croteau & Hoynes, Ch. 10) and "The Growing Power of Mass Media," by RayEldon
Mar. 9 No on-campus meeting
Mar. 10 3 PM SL Session # 3 CCES
8.Mar. 14 4 PM "Television as a Cultural Forum," CSUMB by Horace Newcomb & Paul
Hirsch; and "Television Viewing as a Cultural Practice," by Michael Saenz
Mar. 16 No on-campus meeting
Mar. 17 3 PM SL Session # 4 CCES
9.Mar.22-24;No class SPRING BREAK!!!
Mar. 25 No SL No SL session (Our Break)
10. Mar. 28 4 PM "Conceptualizing Culture as Commodity," by Eileen Meehan
Second journal Submission
Mar. 30 4 PM No on-campus meeting CSUMB
Mar. 31 No SL SL session # 5
11. Apr. 4 4 PM Conceptualizing Television Violence: CSUMB
George Gerbner and Cultivation Theory (Handouts)
Apr. 6 No on-campus meeting
Apr. 7–3 PM SL Session # 6 CCES
12. - April 11–4 PM Planning sessions 7 and 8 and Reflection CSUMB
No on-campus meeting
April 14.—3 PM SL Session # 7 CCES
Apr. 18 -4 PM Conceptualizing Television Violence: CSUMB
Third Person Effect and "Magic bullet" theories (Handouts)
Apr. 20 -4 PM "The Beauty Machine," by Jeff Yang and Angelo Ragaza; and "Don't
Blink: Hispanics in Television Entertainment," by The National Council of La Raza
April 24- ——No SL Session (CCES Spring Break)
April 25–4 PM "Lesbian and Gay Press," by Rodger Streitmatter; "Gay Economy Lures
Dollars of Major Advertisers," by Brett Chase; and
"Stonewalled: Advertisers Are Ignoring the Homosexual Community," by Tom Weisend
Last journal submission due
Apr. 27— No on-campus meeting
Apr. 28 4p.m. SL Session # 8 and Graduation Closing Ceremony
May 2 -4 PM "Roseanne: Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess," by Kathleen Rowe;
and"Television and Gender," by David Morley
May 4- 4 PM "Only in Glimpses: Portrayal of America's Largest Minority Groups, by
Carolyn Martindale; and "Racial Stereotyping and the
Media," by M.L. Stein
May 9 -4 PM "Television, Black Americans, and the American Dream," by Herman
Gray; and "A TV Generation is Seeing Beyond Color," byNancy Hass