Mass Media Assignment

Mass Media2Mass Media: Development and Literacy Assignment OptionsIn today’s society mass media has such an influence whether it is positive or negative. It plays an important role in our everyday lives. Mass media affects everyone in the world. The purpose of mass media is everything tied into the advancement of technology and most ofteneducation, news, internet, television, magazines, and so much more. “Culture is made up of both the products that a society fashions and, perhaps more important, the processes that forge those products and reflect a culture’s diverse values.” (Campbell, R., Martin, C., & Fabos, B.) (pg. 6). In this paper was will be discussing the following: What were the major developments in the evolution of mass media during the last century? How did each development influence Americanculture? What is meant by the term media convergence, and how has it affected everyday life? Lastly, we will conclude as to, why media literacy is important for responsible media consumption today. With the influence surrounding mass media in America has really showcasedits growth in technology but also worldwide with different cultures. And having that form of communication lets us know what is going on. With looking at all of these components, we are

CMST241 Rhetoric of Mass Media Assignments Page

Paper One

Topic: What Should Media Criticism Do?

Description: When one sets out to criticize, one should do so with a purpose in mind. One might work as a literary critic, for example, for a variety of reasons: to read texts as products of political economies, to read for representations of people by gender or race, to explore beauty, etc. As you are setting out to become media critics, I want you to write a short essay explaining the purpose of criticism. In two pages, and using any readings that might be helpful (from this class or elsewhere), describe what purpose media criticism should have. Your response may be specific or general but must focus on your own ideas of what criticism should do. We will use these essays as starting points for class discussion, so be prepared to share your ideas. Because this paper serves the dual purpose of beginning a conversation and letting us get adjusted to what is expected in writing assignments, I will be judging the papers in terms of style (grammar, voice) rather than in terms of specific content (i.e., you cannot give a wrong answer to the question, but you could write a paper that does or does not work grammatically). Further, if you so choose, you may post the paper to the class newsgroup (this is not required, although I would look upon it kindly).


  • 2 page maximum (reasonable font and margins, double spaced)
  • cite sources if, and as, used--your choice of style sheets. You can find examples of MLA or APA here).
  • due: September 4.
  • 10% of final grade
  • Contact me in person, on the phone (322-2988), or via email with ideas, questions, or concerns.

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Journal/Book Chapter Analysis

Description:  By November 20, you must turn in a three page, double spaced analysis of either A) an essay in an academic journal focusing on media criticism (you MUST approve such an article with me before the due date), or B) one of the chapters from either of our text books, providing that the chapter is not assigned for this course.  Please approve this chapter with me before you write your analysis. 

In your paper, you should A) provide a summary of the argument of the paper, identifying the type of criticism employed by the author(s); B) identify any problems or issues you have with the argument; and C) situate the article with other essays we have read for the class.  You do not have to accomplish each of these three tasks in a step by step manner but may write the paper in any fashion you like, as long as it indeed covers each of these areas. 


  • 3 page maximum (reasonable font and margins, double spaced)
  • cite all sources if, and as, used--your choice of style sheets.  You can find examples of MLA or APA here).
  • due: anytime, but it must be turned in by November 20.
  • 5% of final grade.
  • Contact me in person, on the phone (322-2988), or via email with ideas, questions, or concerns.

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Rhetoric of Mass Media Paper Two

Description: By the time this paper is due, we will have finished reading a number of books and essays in class that have very different takes on the relative influence of mass media in terms of both form and content, as well as different views on how people consume mass mediated texts. What I would like you to do with this paper is to take up a theoretical/critical point made in one of the books or essays and investigate how it works in a case study. For example, if you wanted to either defend or argue against Postman's argument that education has become a form of entertainment in contemporary culture as a result of mass mediated changes, you should choose a mass mediated educational text and use it as your basis for criticism. As you write the paper, keep these items in mind: (1) regardless of whether you decide to defend (extend) or rework an idea we have discussed, I expect you to discuss other relevant positions in your paper (i.e., illustrate that you can converse with other ideas we have discussed/read in class); (2) you must not simply repeat the argument you are working with (e.g., you can not simply agree with Postman--you must either explicitly disagree with his position or agree with him but extend it beyond where it already is).


--The paper is worth 25% of your grade. You can choose to take a midterm exam instead of writing this paper. While we will discuss the exam option in depth in class, it will work accordingly to the following guidelines: One week before the exam date, I will make available for you 10 essay questions. When you come to the exam session (bringing a "blue book"), I will randomly (i.e., by rolling a 10 sided die) choose 4 of the 10 questions, and you will choose to respond to 3 of those questions.

--Rough drafts (bring 2) will be distributed on Oct.9, workshopped on Oct 11 and final drafts will be turned in on Oct 16. Everyone must be prepared to discuss their paper in class or on the newsgroup when such a discussion would be useful for the class.

--The paper should be between 5-8 pages, doubled spaced (reasonable fonts and margins). Exceptions must be passed by me before being turned in.

--Sources should be cited on a bib page (your choice of style sheets--you can find examples of MLA or APA here).

--Research your papers beyond what we read in class (e.g., draw upon readings in other classes, web pages, library research, sources I suggest, sources pointed to by the authors we read).

--Ground your claims in the text you investigate.

--If possible, have evidence of your text for me to look at if I ask for it (video tapes, magazine articles, etc.). Such texts sometimes become part of our general class discussion.

--If you had specific troubles with your first paper, please see me about them before we work on this paper.

--In general, I encourage you to ask me questions in class, in the office, over the phone (322-2988), or over email. Just be sure to ask questions when you have them.

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Rhetoric of Mass Media Final Paper/Presentation

Description: Again, I would like you to take a perspective from our readings and class discussion and "perform" a criticism of a particular mass mediated text (whether it be film, music, television, newspapers, etc.). Regardless of what perspective or text you choose, I want you to supplement your reading with an ethnographic or audience centered approach. That is, after choosing a particular orientation toward the text and criticizing the text on those grounds, I want you to include "real people" consuming the text. Your paper should not only provide a textual account, then, but it should also check this textual account against how people consume or work with the text. You should then account for the differences between your account and that of the audience (if there are any) by explaining how the audience, in its consumption, helps us rework theories about texts. Consider doing studies of audiences by watching them in the act of consumption, by questioning them formally or informally, by "eavesdropping" on conversations within a gathering (e.g., a Star Trek convention, a viewing club, newsgroups, chat rooms).


--The paper is worth 30% of your final grade.

--Rough drafts of the papers (bring 2) will be distributed on Dec 02, workshopped out of class and are due on Dec 06 (regardless of when you present).

--The paper should be between 5-8 pages, double spaced (reasonable fonts and margins).

--If you wrote a paper at midterm, you can work on the final paper/project with a class mate (who also wrote a paper at midterm). If you follow this route, length requirements double (10-18 pages) as do my expectations of how much work is put into the project.

--Sources should be cited on a bib page (your choice of style sheets--you can find examples of MLA or APA here).

--Consider posting paper ideas on the newsgroup if you think it would be helpful for your paper writing or for the class.

--We will sign up for times to present these final papers in class.

--Look over the first paper(s) to see if there are any specifics problems, questions we need to discuss.

--If you do not understand any aspect of this assignment or simply want to ask a question, call me (322-2988), email me, or stop by my office.

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