Introduction to Mass Communication

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2017
Fain Fine Arts Center
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 12:00-12:50

Dr. Mitzi Lewis (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Course Objectives

You begin your core for mass communication with this course. This course also satisfies the Cultural & Global Understanding MSU core curriculum requirement. Students of any major can benefit from this course because they will become better-informed media consumers.

  • This course is designed to give you an overview of how the mass media operate and their place in American society.
  • You will briefly examine career opportunities in mass communication.
  • You will examine and analyze contemporary issues facing the mass media.

As this is a survey course, emphasis will be placed on gaining a broad, general understanding of the mass media, and it will be difficult to study specific topics in depth.  However, I encourage students to approach me about suggestions for more in-depth readings and/or projects on various topics.

Learning Community

Introduction to Mass Communication, MCOM 1233-L11, is partnered in a Learning Community with Appreciation of Film, MCOM 2213-L10. Because you will be attending both classes with the same people, you will have an increased opportunity to make connections and friends with each other and help each other succeed, individually and as team members.

Learning community benefits

Research shows that students in learning communities:

  • Have a higher GPA than students not in learning communities
  • Are more connected to their school and classmates
  • Stay in college and have a lower drop out rate
  • Feel more comfortable in college and closer to faculty
  • Feel more satisfied in their courses ($15)

Drop policy

Because these courses are linked and must be taken together, if you decide to drop one of these classes, you will be required to drop both of them. Dropping these courses could have significant impact on your student record and financial aid. It is also recommended, prior to dropping, you consult with the Financial Aid Office.

Comments from students who have taken a course like this one

  • "This is a great way to start college."
  • "This helped me to adjust to college."
  • "I got closer to my classmates and professors. This was a great experience." ($13)
  • “It was an amazing experience. I think this is a great way to learn and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone.” (
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is the way learning is done in this class.”
  • “Do not hesitate to talk and meet other students in and out of class. They understand things you don’t, and vice versa.”
  • “I wish I had asked more questions and been more engaged in group discussions from the start.”
  • “Do not let yourself feel discouraged. The teacher and your classmates can and will help you.”
  • “Feel free to ask a question … even if you think it is a stupid question.”
  • “This format is much more fun and less intimidating than a lecture.”
  • “This method helped me learn more and remember more than I thought possible.”
  • “It seems strange at first, but get to know your classmates. The faster you meet people and become comfortable the better the class will be.”
  • “Don’t let yourself take the course lightly just because class is fun and relaxed. Do the homework and reading.” (

Course Expectations

  • Textbook: Mass Communication: Living in a Media World, 6th edition, by Ralph Hanson

  • An internet connection (we will use a class wiki and Desire2Learn for this class)

  • Persistence, patience, optimism, and an active mind

Teaching and Learning Philosophy

  1. Students’ responsibility: Take responsibility for your own learning and take advantage of in- and out-of-classroom opportunities
  2. Professor’s (facilitator’s) responsibility: Provide students with meaningful learning opportunities in the classroom and through assignments

Grading Standards

Final grades will be based on a personal journal, a final exam and smaller assignments and quizzes.  You should take note that you will be required to do a lot of writing over the course of the semester, and the quality of your writing will be a factor in your final grade.  You will also be required to think critically about the issues being discussed and form coherent, defensible positions; I’m not interested in having you quote back the literature to me – I’ve read it.  Details on all assignments will be given as the semester progresses.

Final grades will be based on the following:

Journal: 35%

Final Exam: 30%

Assignments and quizzes: 30%

Professionalism: 5%

Submission Format Policy

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

•    In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified.
•    Reading assignments are to be completed by the day they are assigned.
•    Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Because abundant lecturing tends to be counterproductive for both you and me, I try to include activities that are more interesting than straight lecture, such as discussions, presentations, field trips, guest speakers, etc. The success of this format depends on your willingness to actively participate in class discussions and other activities.

Attendance and participation are critical to your success. Another way to describe this is professionalism. Professionalism means that you’re here, ready to engage in new opportunities.

The college learning environment is a professional environment. It is similar in many ways to a professional work environment. You are expected to demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors; including, but not limited to, arriving on time, being prepared, actively participating, communicating respectfully, and staying for the full class period. If you miss class, you miss the chance to participate in your education and the education of others in class. Your peers are counting on you to be in class and to participate. A peer evaluation will be distributed toward the end of the semester.

If you miss class without an acceptable excuse you get a zero for that day’s participation and class work and any work that is due.

If you must miss class, please let me know BEFORE the class period that you will miss. You may call my office and leave me a voice mail or you may notify me by e-mail. An absence may be excused at my discretion in accordance with university policy if you provide documentation of the reason for your absence. When you have an acceptable excuse, you are responsible for finding out what you missed and arranging to make it up with the instructor. Missed work must be made up within one week of when your return to class, or you will receive a zero.

Plan carefully regarding appointments and/or work schedules to avoid missing class. Any personal emergencies that arise will be dealt with on an individual basis. Do not assume you will be allowed to make up assignments missed during an unexcused absence. If you MISS CLASS, it is YOUR responsibility to find out what you missed. I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO PROVIDE INDIVIDUAL “MAKE-UPS” TO MISSED CLASS SESSIONS. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE CLASS MEETINGS.

In class assignments will help you immediately apply concepts covered in class. If you miss a class you get a “zero” for that day’s in-class assignments. If you miss more than two classes, or if you are habitually late or leave early, your final grade may be lowered by 1/3 letter grade for each instance beyond one absence.  Two tardies = one absence.  One minute to 19 minutes late = one tardy. Twenty minutes or more late = one absence. Leaving before class is dismissed = one absence. After four absences or tardies, you are subject to being dropped from the course with a grade of “F.”

I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, constitutes an excused absence or when a late arrival is excusable.

Finally, it is unacceptable to skip another class to work on a project for this class. Do not ask me for an excused absence to work on another course. Plan accordingly and be organized.

Some additional guidelines:

  • You are responsible for all material presented in every class period, whether present or not.
  • If you miss a class period you should obtain the material presented from another classmate. (I will not repeat lecture material that was missed. Handouts are available from my office – it is your responsibility to come get them.)

Other Policies

Policies: Classroom/Conduct/Academic Dishonesty

  • Classroom behavior that interferes with either the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to benefit from the instruction will result in the instructor’s removing the disruptive student(s) from the class.
  • “If you promise that you will not halt your class participation to read your email, text with a friend, post to your Facebook wall... I promise that I will not halt my class participation to read my email, text with a friend, or post to my Facebook wall.” (from oh_richard on
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed by the computers because we are working with expensive equipment that can very easily be damaged by food or drink. Food and drink may be left on the bookcase by the door. Any misuse or abuse of equipment will result in expulsion from the lab for the semester and/or assessment of replacement/repair costs.
  • Students are expected to adhere to the Standards of Conduct as published in the Student Handbook. Students should refer to the current MSU student handbook and activities calendar for University policies and Student Honor Creed on academic dishonesty, class attendance, student’s rights, and activities.

a.     The main statement from the MSU Student Honor Creed should be a guiding principal for you: “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”

b.     I reserve the right to drop any student with an F if he/she engages in any form of academic dishonesty.  I further reserve the right to recommend other sanctions as may be appropriate.  Students are also encouraged to consult the following sources for additional discussion of students’ rights and responsibilities regarding cheating, attendance and general conduct:

                                                        i.     The MSU Student Honor Creed

                                                      ii.     MSU Undergraduate Catalog

                                                     iii.     MSU Student Handbook

c.     In addition, the university requires faculty to provide this statement to all students: “By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course.  The “limited right” shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and educational purposes.”

  • On the Internet, plagiarism is especially easy. DO NOT give in to the temptation to copy-and-paste other people’s work! Your work must be your own. If you plagiarize as a professional and get found out, you will damage if not destroy your own reputation and do great harm to the reputation of any organization you work for. In this class, plagiarism will have dire consequences.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism comes from the Latin word plagiarius, which means kidnapper.  Webster’s Dictionary defines plagiarize as to take (ideas, writings, etc.,) from (another) and pass them off as one’s own-plagiarizer. Plagiarism includes the deliberate as well as inadvertent failure to properly attribute. All of the work you do in this class should be the work of you. Violation of this policy will result in the student and/or group receiving a failing grade for this course.  IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE…IF IN DOUBT-ASK! Students in this course should adhere to the MSU Student Honor Code. 



Federal privacy law prohibits me from releasing information about students to certain parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student.  Thus, in almost all cases I will not discuss your academic progress or other matters with your parents.  Please do not have them call me.  Regardless of these important legal considerations, it is my general policy to communicate with the students, not their parents, even when a student has signed a consent form.  College students are adults and are expected to behave accordingly.


Social Justice

Social justice is one of Midwestern State University’s stated core values, and I consider the classroom to be a place where students will be treated with respect as human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Moreover, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided the students can agree to disagree. It is my expectation that ALL students be able to consider the classroom a safe environment.


Special Accommodations

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information that needs sharing, or if you need special accommodations in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. Please also contact Disability Support Services at 940-397-4140 in Clark Student Center, room 168, to document and coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities if you have not already done so.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at