Communication & Journalism 101: Media & Culture

3 Credits

  • Professor: Robert Prince
  • email:
  • Phone: 907-378-1886
  • Office hours: By appointment
  • Office Location: 105C Bunnell Bldg., UAF Campus

Textbook:    Introduction to Mass Communication, Baran. See the course Blackboard site for which edition we are currently using.

Course Description:

History and principles of mass communication and the role of information media in American society. Introduction to professional aspects of mass communication, including print and broadcast.

Course Goals:

The goals of this course are to help you to think critically about the messages you are presented with every day in the mass media and familiarize you with mass media in the U.S. in terms of their history, contemporary issues and the way they may look in the future. We will also cover basics of the U.S. government’s relationship with journalism and some key relevant laws.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  1. Have strong media literacy skills, such as the ability to spot product placement in film and television
  2. Have a solid grasp of the First Amendment to the Constitution
  3. Understand what libel and prior restraint are and how they pertain to journalism

Instructional Methods:

This course will be taught through textbook readings, online lectures, educational videos, student presentations and online class discussions.

Expectations of Students:

  1. Push yourself to do your best work for this class. If you don’t do your best work now, when will you do it? Remember who writes your recommendation letters.
  2. Check your Blackboard email every weekday.
  3. Respect your peers. Support and encourage them, and offer constructive criticism of their projects.
  4. Ask questions when you do not understand something or are having a problem. If you don’t understand something, chances are at least some of your peers don’t understand it either.
  5. If you are having a problem outside of class that is affecting your ability to perform in this class, please let me know as soon as you can. You do not need to disclose the details of your situation. Although doing well in college is very important, and you need to work hard, do not let the pressure overwhelm you. Your personal health and sanity are more important than good marks. I consider myself a very easy person to talk to and encourage you to come speak to me if you need to discuss issues course-related or otherwise.

Course Schedule:   You can see what we’re doing each week on the Schedule page.

When are assignments due?   Readings, quizzes, and discussion posts are always due by midnight Sunday of the week they are assigned.   So if week 2 begins on Monday April 3, those elements are due by midnight April 9.   Assignments and exams are sometimes due later, so those will have specific due dates listed.   If you have questions about when an assignment is due, please contact me at   You can work ahead on any and all elements of the class.

How should I turn in assignements?   Assignments can all be emailed to me at (this address and both work for me).

Late work: I may or may not accept late work at my own discretion and it may be penalized depending on the circumstances.   Things happen: computers crash, people get sick.   We know this, so plan for it by not waiting until the last minute to complete work.   Late work will not be accepted after the last official day of classes before final exams.

Final Grade Breakdown:

  • Quizzes: 50% Total Cover the material in the readings and lectures. These are at your own pace but must be completed by the last day of class.
  • Discussion Posts: 10% Total Each week you will comment on a discussion topic.
  • Midterm Examination: 10% Covers the material in the readings, lectures and guest speakers from the first half of the semester.
  • Assignments: 20% Total (10% each) There will be two assignments in the course requiring research and dissemination of mass media topics.
  • Final Exam: 10% Covers the material from the readings, lectures and guest speakers from the second half of the semester.   Due by the official end of UAF final exams.
  • TOTAL: 100%

Grading Guidelines:

A:   An honor grade that indicates originality and independent work, mastery of the subject and the satisfactory completion of more work than is regularly required. To get an “A,’ students in my classes need to impress me with the work they’ve done on an assignment and go well beyond what I asked for in the assignment.

94%-100% = A, 90%-93% = A-

B:   Indicates outstanding ability above the average level of performance. To get a “B,’ students in my classes need to do exactly what I asked for in the assignment and do it well.

87%-89% = B+, 84%-86% = B, 80%-83% = B-


Implications of the Grade of ‘C’ (and below) for letter-graded undergraduate courses that are:

–Prerequisites for other courses, or
–Degree major requirements, or
–Core courses

C+ (2.3): Satisfactory to Fair: satisfactory level of performance, with some mastery of material.

C (2.0): Average: satisfactory level of performance and level of competency in the subject. A minimum grade of ‘C’ (2.0) is required for all prerequisites and major courses.

C- (1.7): Barely satisfactory: Minimum grade required for all Core (X)

Courses. A grade of C- (1.7) in a class which is a prerequisite for another class or in a class required for a student’s major will result in the student being required to retake the class.

77%-79% = C+, 74%-76% = C, 70%-73% = C-

D+ (1.3); D (1.0); D- (0.7): Below Average: Fair to poor level of competency in the subject matter.  A grade of D+, D or D- in a Core (X) class will automatically require the student to retake the class to receive core credit, starting Fall 2011.

67%-69% = D+, 64%-66% = D, 60%-63% = D-

F:   Indicates failure to meet lowest standards. To get an “F,’ students in my classes will have missed major elements of the assignment and/or the content will be all–or nearly all–poor quality.

0%-59% = F

For additional grading-policy information, see the UAF Catalog.

Course Policies:

Projects can be redone only if there is sufficient evidence that a requirement(s) of the assignment was described in a way a reasonable adult would find confusing or ambiguous –  and that unclear element of the assignment directly related to the student’s reduced grade.

All work must comply with the University of Alaska Fairbanks policies on student conduct found online at

Plagiarism and Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is representing someone else’s ideas and work as your own. Plagiarism includes not only copying verbatim, but also rephrasing the ideas of another without properly acknowledging the source. As you prepare work and submit it to meet course requirements, whether a draft or a final version of a paper or project, make sure to distinguish personal ideas and language from information derived from sources. Sources include published primary and secondary materials, electronic media, and information and opinions gained directly from other people. The UAF Student Code of Conduct  is adhered to in this course.

All work must be original productions for this course. Plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment, a possible F for the class and potentially further academic discipline. Ignorance of what it means to plagiarize will not be an excuse from punishment. If you have questions about plagiarism, contact me before you hand in the assignment.

Technology Requirements

This is an online course. Students will use a computer to communicate, to access online multimedia (audio, video, Flash), and to create multimedia. Consistent internet access is required, and a computer with the ability to record and broadcast sound via a built-in or external mic or a headset is highly recommended.

Students will be expected to have the most current versions of several applications that will be used in this course, including QuickTime, Flash (Mac|Windows), and Java.


I will make reasonable accommodations for individuals with documented disabilities. Notify me within the first two weeks of the semester if you have any special needs.

Disability Services, a part of UAF Center for Health and Counseling, provides academic accommodations to enrolled students who are identified as being eligible for these services. If you believe you are eligible, please visit the Office of Disability Services at  or contact a student affairs staff person at your nearest local campus. You can also contact Disability Services on the Fairbanks Campus at (907) 474-5655, The instructor will work with the Office of Disabilities Services to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities.


The Division of Student Services (DSS) provides student-centered programs and services designed to assist students in achieving their personal, academic and career goals. In collaboration with academic deans, they lead the university in recruiting a diverse student body. With the use of ongoing assessment, DSS supports and develops programs and communities that contribute to the retention, success and leadership development of students. Go to  to learn more.

UAF eCampus and Distance Education provides student service support for this online course. See their website at:

Writing support services are available to UAF students through the Writing Center, located in 801 Gruening, 474-5314, online at: You are encouraged to use this resource to meet writing expectations.

Technology support services are available through the OIT Support Center, 450-8300 (Toll Free: 800-478-8226), online at:, and via email to

About Your Professor:

I grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and graduated from Calvin College with a B.A. in Communication Arts & Sciences. After college I went to work in Chicago for Kurtis Productions, producers of the Investigative Reports series on A&E. I then was hired as a Producer/Director for the PBS affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I directed live and pre-recorded programs for local broadcast. In 2000, I went back to Calvin to run the video production department. While working there I earned my M.A. from Michigan State University in Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media.

In 2005 I moved to Fairbanks to teach in the Journalism Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.