Model Projects: New and Revised Syllabus for the Course "Media, Self and Society."

JOUR 1871

Media, Self and Society


Spring Semester 2009

4 – 6:30 p.m. p.m. Wednesdays, Armory 206A

Professor: Paul Voakes (Dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

Office: Armory 119

Office Hours: By appointment only

Telephone: 492-4364 (office); 303-449-5570 (home).





            As future media professionals you have the opportunity to make significant contributions to society. 

            But what does that really mean? What does it mean to be a citizen within contemporary society? How can you contribute? What roles do the media and media professionals play in the practices of citizenship?  This course invites you to explore all of these questions.  We’ll look at the relationship between the individual and collective responsibilities, how we connect with others and how the media engage with contemporary social issues. 

            Your intellectual challenge in this course issynthesis.  I want to help you build your skills at taking seemingly disparate, unrelated elements in life and seeing links, patterns and commonalities. For example, we will consider the role of the millennial generation (that’s you!) in the solution of global problems; the ethical challenges faced by young people and by media professionals; the challenges of working toward a bachelor’s degree in a research university like CU-Boulder; and the value of service to community and to humankind.  How on earth can all of those elements possibly be coherently related?  That is our challenge – every week – for the next 16 weeks.

            The course includes service learning (a form of learning that involves helping others outside the classroom), so we will work with and provide service to an organization within the CU-Boulder community.  Working with the community and people who are different from us helps each of us get clearer about the causes we believe in, the hows and whys of inequality, and eventually, what role media professionals might play. 

            To further develop an understanding of media possibilities, the course includes a wide variety of guest speakers from various media communities who have produced messages with the intent of creating some kind of social change.


            These Are My Expectations of Youfor this course:

            1) Attendance at several sessions of the Conference on World Affairs

            2) 15-20 hours of Community Service over 12 weeks

            3) Attend class every week

            4) Be accountable for your actions

            5) Challenge yourself

            6) Challenge me

            7) Come prepared

            8) Be willing to engage            


            The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is committed to training students in 11 fundamental communication competencies, and this course addresses one of these competencies in particular: “Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.”




            There are four required textbooks:


            Andreatta, Britt.Navigating the Research University: A Guide for First-Year Students.2ndEd. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2009.


            Bugeja, Michael.Living Ethics: Across Media Platforms.New York: Oxford University Press. 2008.


            Greenberg, Eric H., with Karl Weber.Generation We: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America and Changing Our World Forever.  Emeryville, CA: Pachatusan. 2008.


            Loeb, Paul Rogat (Ed.)The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear.New York: Basic Books. 2004.


            In addition, there will be occasional electronic “handouts” on the CU Learn course Website.  Please come to class prepared to discuss all of the readings assigned for each particular week.  Because participation is a major part of your course grade, and you probably cannot participate without having completed the readings, negligence in this area is not a good idea. I am anticipating that you’ll spend an average of three hours preparing (mostly reading assigned readings and sometimes blogging about them), for each class meeting.




         There will be two examinations: one midterm exam and one final exam.  The midterm is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25, and it will take approximately 75 minutes.  The final is scheduled for May 4, and it will take approximately two hours.

            Examinations will cover material discussed in class as well as all required readings (textbook and other handouts).  The exams will consist almost entirely of questions you can answer in a paragraph or short essay.

            There will be no make-ups for missed exams except under the most extraordinary conditions.  The reason must be documented, and I must be notified of your absence IN ADVANCE, unless an extreme emergency prevents your doing so.




            There will also be five or six short quizzes during the semester, just to make sure we're all keeping up with the readings, lectures, and class discussions.  They will take about 10 minutes each, and I will announce them a week in advance. They will usually be objective (multiple choice, true-false, etc.).  There will be no make-ups of missed quizzes under any circumstances, so please do not ask.  I will, however, drop your lowest score when I compute your quiz average.



We will use blogging as a way to process information and share perspectives before and after class. Each of you will be assigned two days during the semester when it will be your turn to lead, that is, to take responsibility to provide the initial comment on the course blog on our CU Learn site. On one of those days, you’ll be the first to post a thoughtful assessment about the readings for an upcoming class.  On your other “blog leader” day, you’ll be the first to post a thoughtful reaction to the guest speaker or whatever other activity highlighted the class that just ended.  I expect the blog entries to range from 100 to 500 words. Blog entries are available to everyone in the class, and every time you respond to the initial blog, you boost your “participation” grade.




            Most class sessions will follow an informal lecture/discussion format; that is, polite interruptions are welcome at all times, with questions and discussion encouraged.

            I consider attendance and participation to be extremely important, especially as we’re meeting only once a week. If you know you will miss a class, calling and leaving word in advance (with my assistant, Amy Belue, at 492-4364) is always better than just not showing up and hoping I won't notice.




            One of the goals of the course is to stimulate your thinking about community – and how a media professional serves a community as part of this country’s greater democratic project.  So we’ll start at a modest, manageable level of service to the CU-Boulder community.  You will be expected to undergo training in January and to begin your service in the first week of February (I will explain in more detail during our first class meeting), and to continue your service through the end of April.  You will average 1-2 hours of this service per week.




           “This I Believe” is a national media project, based on a radio program by the same name in the 1950s, that engages people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives. NPR airs these three-minute essays on All Things Considered, Tell Me More and Weekend Edition Sunday.

            In this course you will produce two pieces suitable for broadcast on npr’s “This I Believe” segment.  The first is due March 18, and it will be very similar to the pieces you can hear on the This I Believe Website (when you get a chance in the next few weeks, please visit, that is, a two-minute personal statement in which you discuss something you believe (or believe in).  The second piece is due April 15 (in its first draft) and again April 29 (final draft).  This will be a two-minute piece (edited carefully by you) that results from an interview you have conducted – a piece in which an adult you’ve gotten to knowonly in this semester talks about a belief he or she strongly holds.  The second This I Believe will be posted on the course Web site, and I will submit all of them to NPR, for their consideration for national broadcast.   




            Each of us will be a planner, attendee and volunteer staff member in the 61stannual Conference on World Affairs, an all-volunteer forum that explores contemporary issues in the arts, media, science, diplomacy, technology, environment, spirituality, politics, business, medicine, human rights, and so on. Film critic Roger Ebert, who participated in the CWA for 38 consecutive years, refers to the CWA as “the Conference on Everything Conceivable.”  Each April, 110 speaker/participants from around the world, representing a wide range of backgrounds, gather in Boulder for what The New York Times calls “a week-long extravaganza of discussion and debate” on over 200 panels, plenaries and performances. This year the CWA will take place April 6-10.

            This class will participate first as members of the “Student Subcommittee,” which suggests ideas for CWA panels based on the strengths, backgrounds (and sometimes the suggestions) of the 110 speaker/participants coming to Boulder. (I will explain in more detail in the first two weeks of class).  We will convene during parts of the weekend of Feb. 14-15 with the entire CWA planning organization, to hammer out the CWA program.

            During the conference itself in April, you will be assigned to be either a driver (if you have access to a reliable vehicle), a panel producer or a member of the marketing staff.



            Your final grade in the course will be determined by these proportions:


            Quizzes                                                 5%

            Blog Leadership                                    5%

            Midterm Exam                                    10%

            Final Exam                                          25%

            Reflective Paper: CWA                        5%

            Participation in CWA                           5%

            Reflective Paper: Service                    10%

            Participation in Service                         5%

            This I Believe (Part I)                         10%

            This I Believe (Part II)                        10%

            Weekly Participation                           10%


            Assignments turned in late will lose at least one full grade for each day that they are late.  If you are unable to attend class on the day a written or audio assignment is due, the assignment must still be turned in before class begins (except for extraordinary extenuating circumstances).

            I have no plans to offer extra-credit assignments. If I do offer any extra credit, it will be available to the entire class.     




            I expect you to do your own work.  CU has an honor code, with which you should be generally familiar by now.  A few highlights:

            A student must not intentionally adopt or reproduce ideas, words or statements of another person without acknowledgement.

            A student must give due credit to the originality of others and honestly pay his/her literary debts.  S/he should acknowledge indebtedness:

                        1.  Whenever s/he quotes another person's actual words;

                        2.  Whenever s/he uses another's idea, opinion, or theory;

                        3.  Whenever s/he borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material -- unless the information is common knowledge.


            The guidelines on plagiarism are especially important as you write your papers.  If you’re not familiar with the overall policy on academic misconduct, please consult   Cheating on quizzes or exams or submitting someone else's work as your own are also examples of academic dishonesty and will be severely punished.  You can almost certainly expect a grade of F, either for the assignment or for the entire course, if I conclude that you have committed academic misconduct.  Normally an instructor must also consider whether to bring up your case with the dean.  This semester we will most certainly skip that step.

            That doesn’t mean you can’t help each other gather information on projects or other homework.  Share tips on how to find things; share your ideas about what the readings mean.  However,your writingmust be your own and must reflectyour own views and conclusions.  Copying and pasting another’s work and passing it off as your own isseriousacademic misconduct.



         If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs may be addressed.  Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities.  Contact: 303-492-8671, Willard 322, and  www.Colorado.EDU/disabilityservices.




         I will make every effort to reasonably and fairly deal with any students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance.  Please notify me at least one week before your anticipated absence, and we will devise a make-up plan.  See the full details on the campus policy at




         Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Students who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. I have the professional responsibility to treat all students with understanding, dignity and respect, to guide classroom discussion and to set reasonable limits on the manner in which you and I express opinions.  Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender variance, and nationalities.  In this course, we will deal with all of these, and a few other, sensitive areas.  See the full campus policy at

and at





           You are responsible for knowing the information on the syllabus and for announcements made in class, including changes to the schedule, as well as material distributed in class.   Material distributed in class is available on CU Learn or with Amy (if I don’t have an electronic version.

            I often send emails to the entire class via your CU account.  You are responsible for this information.  If you are using another email account, check that it is being forwarded properly from your CU account.

            All written assignments must be typed, and they must exhibit levels of punctuation, spelling, grammar and style appropriate to an advanced journalism undergraduate.  Part of your grade on each writing assignment will be the quality of your writing.




            I became dean of the SJMC in July 2003, having spent the previous nine years as a professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism.  My Ph.D. is in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin, with a specialization in media law and ethics.  My research and teaching specializations are in mass media law and ethics, and reporting, writing and editing. 

            My master's and bachelor's degrees are from the University of California.  Before entering academia I was a journalist for 15 years at a few different newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, working as a reporter, business editor, city editor, editorial page editor, and most recently, editorial writer and op-ed columnist for theSan Jose Mercury News.  In the summer of 2000, I returned to professional work as a political reporter and editor at the PortlandOregonian.

            I have also taught journalism at California-Berkeley and Stanford University.











COURSE SCHEDULE(subject to change!)



Jan. 14

 Introductions (Tribond)

Journey through the syllabus

Guest speaker 1: Puksta Scholar

Guest speaker 2: SWAP


Greenberg, “A Gift for a Better World,” pp. 1-9

Bugeja, “Introduction,” pp. 1-13



Jan. 21

Basic Influences on Our Values (Mill, Kant and Aristotle))

Research, and How We Learn

The Millennials Are Here

Guests from campus organizations


Greenberg, “This Moment in History,” pp. 10-17

Bugeja, “Influence,” pp. 17-63

Andreatta, “Research and the Research University,” pp. 1-29

Christians, “Introduction” (handout)



Jan. 28

Responsibility and Accountability

The First-Year Student Develops

Describing Generation We


Bugeja, “Responsibility,” pp. 64-98

Andreatta, “The First-Year Student Experience,” pp. 30-60

Greenberg, “An Amazing + Powerful Generation,” pp. 18-37 only



Feb. 4

Truth and Objectivity

More on Generation We

The First-Year Clarifies his/her Values


Bugeja, “Truth,” pp. 99-133

Greenberg, “An Amazing + Powerful Generation,” pp. 38-57

Andreatta, “Independence,” pp. 96-126



Feb. 11

Lies, Lies, Lies

A Troubled World


Bugeja, “Falsehood,” pp. 137-158

Greenberg, “The World They Inherit,” pp. 58-77 only

Loeb, “Seeds of the Possible,” pp. 1-21 plus your choice of chs. 1-4



Feb. 18

Manipulation and Hoax

More Troubled World


Bugeja, “Manipulation,” pp. 159-182

Greenberg, “The World They Inherit,” pp. 77-99

Loeb, “The Global Stage,” pp. 221-229 only, plus your choice of chs. 28-32



Feb. 25

Midterm Exam

Conflicts of Interest

Parties, Politics and Optimism


Bugeja, “Temptation,” pp. 184-213

Greenberg, “A Clear Vision,” pp. 100-107

Loeb, “Dark Before the Dawn,” pp. 59-62 plus your choice of chs. 5-7



Mar. 4

Bias and Stereotypes


The Politics of Generation We

Guest Speaker: Sallye McKee

(Return Midterms)


Bugeja, “Bias,” pp. 214-235

Andreatta, “The Diverse Campus Community,” pp. 187-223

Loeb, “The Flight of Our Dreams,” pp. 127-131 plus your choice of chs. 13-21



Mar. 11


The Politics of Generation We


Bugeja, “Fairness,” pp. 239-253

Greenberg, “The Emergence of Generation We,” pp. 108-121

Loeb, “Courage is Contagious,” pp. 175-182 plus your choice of chs. 22-27



Mar. 18

Power and the Empowerment of Everyday People

Guest Speaker: Jim Sheeler

Forming Alliances

First “This I Believe” is due.


Bugeja, “Power,” pp. 254-291

Greenberg, “Grand Alliance,” pp. 122-133

Loeb, “Everyday Grace,” pp. 94-98 plus your choice of chs. 8-12

Sheeler handout (fromObitandFinal Salute)






Apr. 1

Making Change Happen


Greenberg, “The Millennial Agenda,” and “Making Change Happen,” pp. 134-173

Loeb, “Beyond Hope,” pp. 322-327 plus your choice of chs. 39-44



Apr. 8

Conference on World Affairs – no class



Apr. 15

“This I Believe” presentations

First Draft of “This I Believe II” is due

CWA reflective paper is due



Apr. 22

Service and Leadership

Service Paper is due


Andreatta, “Leadership Development,” pp. 224-253

Loeb, “Only Justice Can Stop a Curse,” pp. 356-360 plus your choice of chs. 45-49

Greenberg, “The We Declaration,” pp. 174-185



Apr. 29

Student Presentations: “This I Believe II”

Where Do We Go From Here?


Andreatta, “Planning for the Future,” pp. 254-263

Bugeja, “Value Systems” pp. 292-304



Final Exam: Monday May 4