Mass Communications

J 21

Rachel Anne Goodman

Mass Communications

Journalism 21

Cabrillo College

Instructor: Rachel Anne Goodman

Spring 2015
Room 406
M-W 12:00-1:20 pm

Textbook: Mass Media in a Changing World: George Rodman, latest edition

Instructor Communication Policy

Establishing regular and effective communications with me is foundational to your success in this class and is a shared responsibility of instructor and student. Email is the quickest way to reach me. I will respond to your inquiries within 24 hours Mon-Fri. If I do not reply in this time frame, please assume I did not receive your email and contact me again.

Office Hour: Wednesday 11:15-12:10 Room 408B
Phone: 419-9047 or 457-8098

Course Materials

Text: Mass Communications in a Changing World, George Rodman, latest edition

Composition Book, lined pages for Media Journal


Please review the syllabus here and download and print for your records

Rachel copy.jpg

About Your Instructor

I have been a radio host and producer for much of my career, earning a Peabody award for my work on NPR's The DNA Files, and producing many long form documentaries. I even flew on a Hurricane Hunter jet for ten hours to get a story about pacific storms. I have also taught journalism at Cabrillo and UCSC in past years. I am proud of my former students who are now working in the field in radio and television. My philosophy of teaching is to let students learn by doing and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always by taking chances. Our world needs more effective communicators who have strong ethical foundations.


Check here regularly for updated assignments.

Ongoing: Media Journal: You will be writing in your journal once or twice a week as homework. Entries are expected to be at least one page. You will turn in your media journal four times a semester to be graded.


Week 1: Prompt: Set a timer: Keep a media diary for a day. Write down EVERYTHING that is media that you read, hear, watch, etc. If you are online, time that. If you consume all media through your phone, chart the types of media you consume: Example: 1pm-4pm: Watched youtube cat video 1minute, read article on cats, 5 minutes, Read newspaper article about Obama, 20 minutes, etc. Make sure you write the media, the title, and the time you spent. Impressions at this point are optional. The point is to see how much you are consuming of what type media. You can make a grid to make it easier. Write down how you feel after long stretches of media consumption.

Week 2: Prompt: Media Fast: Put away all types of devices for four hours. No phone, email, computer, television, radio, music, books, magazines, etc. Each time you are tempted to reach for one, I want you to write down how you are feeling and what need it is satisfying. At first you may experience irritation, anger, frustration, or peace of mind. Keep at it. You can do this. If you can't, that says something about your level of addiction. When four hours are up, reflect on what happened.

Week 3: Prompt: What is your favorite book and how has it influenced the way you think about yourself and the world? Who is your favorite author? Who is your favorite literary hero? If you don't read, why is that? Describe your relationship to books. Reflect on how books influence our culture and ideas about ourselves and our society.

Week 4: Read a daily newspaper (Sentinel or Pajaronian or SJ Mercury or Chronicle) and write about what stuck with you from reading it. What role does it have in your community? What pages do you look for first? How do you know what you are reading is true? What kinds of stories are on the front page? Back page?

Week 5: Read a fashion magazine. (Public libraries or Cabrillo has some) How do you feel about yourself and your body and fashion image after reading it? If you are a woman, how do you feel about your body size and its relation to your self esteem after reading one of these magazines? What are the meta-messages contained in the ads? Find an ad, paste it into your journal. Men; Same question: What are the stereotypes of maleness that magazines want you to believe in? Do you think you are immune to their influence?

Week 6; How much of what you believe about other races comes from the media? Cite examples of racist messages and stereotypes in movies. Watch a movie with people other than whites in it. What do you notice? If you are a non-white immigrant, reflect on how people from the same background are portrayed in movies. Are they even shown? How much do movies influence your thinking about race?

Week 7: Look at your Ipod. How do your favorite artists make a living? Should music be free? What would be the ideal situation for musicians to earn a living making music? What messages about race and gender are most common in the music you listen to?

Week 8: Prompt: Radio listening exercise; make a chart of how many songs your favorite radio station plays and how many commercials in one hour. Who do you think their audience is? What do they assume you care about? Who are they appealing to? What tricks is the announcer using to keep your attention?

Week 9: Watch three political ads for candidates. What meta-messages is it trying to get across about the candidate and his/her opponent? What emotions are they playing on? What do they think the audience cares about? Which is most effective? How much do you think it cost to produce and air? Who paid for it?

What do you think of the influence of money on elections? Should their be limits on what candidates spend or what "Superpacs" spend on ads on candidate's behalf?

Week 10: Watch a movie or tv show or play a video game. Keep a violence tally. How many violent scenes can you count? Who is doing the hurting? Who are the victims? What race are they? How many guns can you count?

Week 11; What are the media messages about consuming and buying things saying to you about the role of things in your life? Watch a bunch of commercials. Write down what the cultural narrative about buying things is really saying. Make a scrap book of these messages from ads and magazine clippings. Or make a video montage of consumerism messages.

Week 12: Try to be on the internet and do just one thing. I dare you. Then write about how you felt when you were trying not to browse around, look at your email, play video games, text friends, etc. Look around you. How many people in your immediate room are on their iphones or online. What are those who are not online doing? What is the future of social relations in a device-filled world?

Week 13: How do you know the difference between fact and propoganda when it comes to war coverage? How did the media cover the reason(s) for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you think journalists questioned the reason we were going to war with enough vigour? How does the government manipulate the media into telling the story it wants you to hear? How do journalists stand for truth? What do war correspondents risk in going into war zones and why is it important?

Week 14: Break

Week 15: Final thoughts

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