JOUR 4712
Mass Media and Cultures
3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

Mass Media and Cultures is designed to orient future professional communicators to the challenges and opportunities involved in understanding and communicating with people of different cultures, both domestically and internationally. For the professional journalist, public relations practitioner, and advertising executive, such communication is crucial, as the world becomes more of a global village every day. Even if one never leaves the shores of the United States, he or she will find it necessary and inevitable to communicate with members of different cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds every day of the week in their professional world. Each culture communicates differently. Some of these differences are minor and subtle; others are major (both subtle and obvious).

This course is divided into twelve content modules as designated by the backpack icons on the course homepage. Each module focuses on a specific topical area and contains some lecture notes, assigned readings, and assignments which are to be e-mailed to the instruction upon completion. Students must finish one content module before moving on to the next.

Course Objectives:

The goals of this course are to (1) Learn how differences in cultures affect differences in communication; (2) Understand how to report effectively on different cultures; (3) Understand the patterns of worldwide news and information flow; (4) Understand how to practice professional communication with different cultures.
Prerequisites and Corequisites:
A Junior standing. This is a writing intensive course and presupposes some familiarity with the journalism profession.
Course Topics:
In addition to looking at different cultures, we will also examine the way news is disseminated among the various cultures of the world and of the implications in the patterns of this dissemination.

We will also look at the perils involved in reporting from other countries, especially in times of war or civil unrest.

We will also look at several reporting orientations and bring them to bear on reporting the world's news.

The issues of who gets to speak for countries and cultures, and how events or issues become international news will also be addressed, as will the special role of public relations in creating images of countries.

Finally, we will examine some of the images that are created by the media and maintained of different cultures and of how accurate or distorted these images might be and why.

Specific Course Requirements:
This coursework will involve three short papers, two exams, and a final term paper. It will also require students to contribute to the class discussion page each week. More specifically:

1. Midterm and Final Exams: Each is an applied exam done in take-home form and geared to a cultural situation/issue posed by the instructor.

2. Three short papers. Each is an analysis of an assigned film dealing with intercultural communication scenarios. The first of these films is "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962); the second is "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1983); the third is "Gung-Ho" or "Dances With Wolves." These films are all available at your local video stores. If you encounter problems finding any of them, contact your instructor immediately for further instructions.

3. Final Term Paper. This is to be a 15-page, double-spaced paper which analyzes some aspect of intercultural reporting or intercultural communication. Students should follow the American Psychological Association (APA) Style in constructing this paper. You need not have a table of contents page, but you should have a half-page abstract to start the paper, then the text of the paper, then a page(s) of endnotes. You should e-mail your instructor with topic ideas by the end of the second course module. Check the Bulletin Board for possible topic ideas.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements
Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Supplementary Materials:
None required.
Hardware Requirements:
The minimum requirements can be found at Secific hardware requirements for this course include...
Software Requirements:
The minimum requirements can be found at Secific hardware requirements for this course include...(A list of software the student is required to purchase or download for the course, Real Player, Media Player, Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Office, etc).
Instructor Information
Please see the separate page inside the course to find instructor contact information as well as a statement of virtual office hours and other communication information.
Assessment and Grading
Testing Procedures:
The midterm and final exam will be distributed to the students following completion of the sixth and 12th content modules. Each student will have two days to do the exam and then e-mail the resulting paper back to the instructor. The short papers and final term paper should also be e-mailed, and all should come as attachments to the instructor.
Grading Procedure:
The midterm and final exams account together for 50 percent of the course grade; the three short papers account for 15 percent; the final term paper accounts for 25 percent, and the class discussion accounts for 10 percent. A high quality of research, analysis, and writing is expected for students wishing to receive an A or B in this class. 
Grading Scale:
Assignments and Participation
Assignments and Projects:
The midterm exam will take place after the student has completed the sixth content module; the final exam comes after completion of the 12th module; Each short paper is due at the end of the third, seventh, and 10 content module; the final paper is due after completion of the 12th content module. Students should try to do one content module each week.

Class Participation:
Students must participate interactively in this course to receive a grade. That goes for the content modules, e-mail exchanges with the instructor, and weekly discussion postings with the other students in the class. Check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements.
Students should strive to complete one content module each week to stay up with the flow of the semester. Remember to start your term paper early and have it completed by the end of your 12th content module. 
Course Ground Rules
Participation is required, and students are expected to communicate with other students in discussion board postings., Learn how to navigate in WebCT, and keep abreast of course announcements. , Use the assigned college or university e-mail address as opposed a personal e-mail address, Address technical problems immediately, Observe course netiquette at all times. 
Guidelines for Communications
  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members
Discussion Groups:
  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other's ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.
  • Introduce yourself to the other learners in the chat session.
  • Be polite. Choose your words carefully. Do not use derogatory statements.
  • Be concise in responding to others in the chat session.
  • Be prepared to open the chat session at the scheduled time.
  • Be constructive in your comments and suggestion
Web Resources:


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses. 

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:
If you are having problems logging into your course,
timing out of your course, using your course web site tools, or other technical problems, please contact the AskRODP Help Desk by calling

1-866-550-7637 (toll free)

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