Communications 200.

Introduction to Mass Communication.

Winter Quarter, 2000

10:30 to 11:50, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kane 130.

Professor Gerald J. Baldasty

Office: 343 Communications

Office hours: Tuesdays, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Thursdays, 9 to 10 a.m.


Teaching assistants:

Fiona Clark (Lead TA), Jeffrey Bates, Taso Lagos, Paola Bellotti, Robert Newell and Mike McCluskey.

Course Objectives.

By the end of the quarter, you should have acquired a critical awareness of how the U.S. mass media operate and a critical awareness of media content. In particular, you should acquire:

In examining these themes, we will focus on several broad areas:

By the end of the quarter, you should be able to provide fairly sophisticated answers to these (and other) questions:

Required Readings.

1. Cmu. 200 Packet of Readings at Rams Copy Center, 4144 University Way N.E.

I created this readings packet primarily to accompany the lecture material in the first half of the course. Most of the readings emphasize the relation between production processes and content in entertainment media.

2. Shanto Iyengar and Richard Reeves, editors, Do the Media Govern? Politicians, Voters and Reporters in America. Sage. Paperback. New: $34.95; Used $26.25.

I chose this book because it provides a broad overview of key issues in news today. It draws on work from more than 50 authors, thus providing you with a cross-section of the top work on news and government today.

Exams, Papers.

There will be three exams, each worth 100 points.

Exam 1: 100 points. Date: Tuesday, January 26.

Exam 2: 100 points. Date: Tuesday, February 22.

Exam 3: 100 points. Monday, March 13, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

There will be no early exams. Exams will be a combination of multiple choice and matching, and perhaps fill-in-the-blank.

Paper. There will be one paper, worth 200 points. Details will be announced in discussion sections.

There will be a series of "one minute papers" at various points through the quarter. These are 1-2 sentence papers, done at the end of a lecture, that summarize the key points in that day's lecture. The point of this requirement is to help you get into the habit of thinking about the key points in each day's lecture.

Discussion sections will be worth 25 points. This portion of the grade will derive from class participation.

Extra credit: At least 5 points of extra credit will be available; further extra credit might be available at various points during the quarter.

To recap:

Extra credit option. You may earn 5 points for participating in a small research project outside of class time, probably during 8th or 9th week of quarter. More details later.

General course procedures.

Attendance at lecture is not required, although the exams will draw from lecture material. When you attend, please plan on participating in class by listening or discussing when appropriate. Do not talk extensively with other students; it disrupts both the lecturer and other students. Reading a newspaper or magazine is also disruptive. Disruptive students will be asked to leave the room. If you do not want to come to class to listen and participate in a constructive way, stay away.

You may subscribe to ASUW lecture notes in this class. Two caveats: first, I assume no responsibility for the notes. Second, I encourage you to learn to take your own notes; use the ASUW notes to supplement your own notes or to cover classes you miss. Lecture overheads will list key points in each lecture; these will be posted each week on the course web page (URL above).

Class will always end by 11:50 a.m.; lecture will never go beyond that time. Wait until 11:50 a.m. to prepare to leave the room. Do not start your preparations at 11:45 or you will miss the summary points in the lecture and you will disrupt others.

Changing your section: Only official changes, through the registrar, will be allowed. This policy avoids a great deal of confusion and ultimately protects students by (a) keeping your records in one place and (b) keeping discussion section sizes uniform.

If you cannot adhere to these policies, you will want to find another course.


The Instructor

Gerald Baldasty. This is my twenty-second year as a faculty member at the University of Washington. I did my Ph.D work here at UW in Communications, my M.A. work in Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my B.A. in Communications at UW.

I teach courses on media history, on gender, race and media and on research methods. My research work deals primarily with media business history in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am also doing research on the African American press in Seattle, 1900-1950 and on representation of women and people of color in prime time television. Iíve written two books: The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century (1992) and E.W. Scripps and the Business of Newspapers (1999).

My chief goal in this course is to help you develop a critical awareness of the mass media. I want you to understand how the media operate (production, news process) and to recognize that media content is socially constructed (meaning: it does not mirror actual events in our society; it is usually not real). I want you to leave this class in March with a much more sophisticated sense of the media -- and with more critical viewing and reading skills. The chief question in the student evaluations at the end of the quarter will be this: Are you a more critical and aware media consumer than you were at the start of the quarter?

Teaching Assistants

Jeffrey Bates ( is a Ph.D. student who researches a variety of issues in international and cross-cultural communication. He has interests in the social and individual process of communication, especially in the realms of folklore, adoption patterns and identity formation. Jeff worked as a TA in Cmu. 200 during Autumn Quarter, 1999.

Paola Bellotti ( is a M.A. student interested in international communication and specifically in how media create or maintain national identity in an era of globalization. She is also interested in inter-cultural communication and in the concept of "flow of information," in how it has originated historically and how it is likely to be affected by the Internet.

Fiona Clark ( is a Ph.D. student whose main research interest is in the role of communications in solving environmental problems. Fiona is a former video editor for BBC Television in the United Kingdom and has also worked on environmental communications projects in East Africa. She was the lead TA for Cmu. 200 during Spring and Autumn quarters, 1999.

Taso Lagos ( is a Ph.D. student interested in technology and its ability to improve the lives of the marginalized. He completed his M.A. thesis on "microcinemas," or small boutique film theaters currently rising in popularity across the country. Taso also makes feature films and teaches at Seattle Central Community College. He was a TA in Cmu. 320 during Autumn Quarter, 1999.

Michael McCluskey ( is a second-year M.A. student whose thesis is on newspaper coverage of the Wenatchee child sex-abuse investigations. He is also working on projects about news coverage of school shootings and a survey of public opinion before and after the recent WTO meeting in Seattle. McCluskey was a newspaper reporter and editor before starting graduate work at UW. He was a TA in Cmu. 200 in Autumn, 1999, and spent four quarters as a TA in Communications 362.

Robert Newell ( is a second-year M.A. student whose research interests lie in international communication, media and sports, popular culture and media events as cultural practice. Robertís thesis addresses natural disaster coverage from a cultural studies perspective. He has worked in a number of capacities in media production, including serving as camera operator and technical director for the NBC-affiliated evening news and as a news and feature writer for a small circulation newspaper, both in Austin, Texas. Robert has also worked on independent films and in the theatre, both in production and as an actor. He was a TA in Cmu. 200 during Autumn Quarter, 1999.


Some Internet Sites

The World Wide Web provides a staggering array of information on the mass media. Here are a few suggestions on sites you may find of interest:


The New York Times is the nationís "newspaper of record" and does much to set the agenda for national news each day. Its coverage of the mass media (primarily in the business section on Mondays and in the Arts section on Wednesdays) is particularly. Its Cyber-Times section (available only on-line) provides up-to-date information on a variety of cyber issues, including coverage of law, business and arts. [To get to Cyber Times: go the to paperís home page, then click on Technology in the index; after you get to the Technology section, click on Cyber-Times.]

This is a free site, although you must register on your first use.


Washington Post. Also free. Particularly good on television and media. See Lisa de Moraes on TV and Howard Kurtz on press criticism. Go to the home page, click on "TV & Media" on the left-hand index.


Wall Street Journal. Some of the best coverage of the business of mass media. Unfortunately, this site is not free.


Chicago Tribune. Free, but slow. Some excellent articles in the "Leisure" section on television and movies.


The Los Angeles Times. Free. Excellent news coverage of Hollywood.


This site takes you to a variety of on-line sites, including Time, People, Money and Fortune. It also includes Entertainment Weekly, which is a pretty good site on entertainment issues. You need to sort through the gossip to get at the larger issues of how media operate.


The on-line site for the television show "Entertainment Tonight." Fairly good on up-to-date developments in the industry, although ET is primarily a public relations front for its parent company (Paramount).


The Microsoft-NBC online news operation. Good on fast-breaking news. Itís media-related coverage is good, too (see: Living, Movies, TV).


The site for the Baltimore-based Afro-American newspapers, one of the oldest African-American newspaper companies in the U.S.


Key sites for Latino news and media analysis. Also see, the online version of Hispanic magazine.


The on-line site of A-magazine, a magazine targeted at Asian Americans aged 15-30.


The on-line site of one of the nationís leading Native American newspapers, Indian Country Today.


One of the better women-oriented sites; includes coverage of news and entertainment issues.


The on-line site of Out, a lesbian and gay magazine targeted primarily at the under-30 audience.

15. Most leading media organizations have web sites (including NBC, CBS, ABC, MTV, etc.). For example:;, etc.

16. or

A major sports web site, with links to ESPNís growing family of media and media-related projects (magazine, radio, restaurants, etc.).


Readings, Lecture Topics

Week 1. January 3-7, 2000.

Introductions, overview on freedom of the press, media effects.


Packet: "Hot News: Chinese Media Stifled Reports of Stifling Heat for Years"

Scott Stossel, "The Man Who Counts the Killings."

Iyengar, 211-216; 237-47



Click here for January 4 class notes.

Click here for January 6 class notes.

Click here for further information on Congress and media violence.

For further information on media effects, see the video "Slim Hopes: Advertising and the Obsession with Thinness" (Odegaard Media Center, Videorecord MEF 001) and the video "Does TV Kill: What should we do about TV?" (also in Odegaard Media Center, Videorecord PBS 217).


Week 2. January 10-14, 2000.

Lecture topics: Media ownership, Motion picture industry.


Iyengar, 66-76, 90-98,

Packet: Bagdikian, "The Endless Chain."

Russ Baker, "Murdoch's Mean Machine."

Douglas Gomery, "Hollywoodís Business."

Click here for sample test questions.

Click here for January 11 class notes.

Click here for January 13 class notes.

We've also drawn up a list of questions on the week 2 readings. We hope these questions will provide some guidance to you on what's important in the readings. Click here.

Week 3. January 17-21, 2000

Lectures will focus on contemporary movies, Disney.


The major movie studios all have websites, which they use for marketing their movies. These sites often include interviews with stars and links to movie-specific web sites (e.g., the "official Mr. Ripley website" is linked to the Paramount site). Visit Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers, or Twentieth Century Fox.


Packet: Newspaper ad: "TV is Leading Children Down a Moral Sewer."

Peter Nichols, "How a Film Indie Goes Shopping for a Backer."

Julie DíAcci, "Defining Women: The Case of Cagney and Lacey."

Howard Kurtz, "ABC Kills Story Critical of Owner Disney."

Please also read "It's a Boy's World in Hollywood." 


If you'd like more information on movies, you might find some of the following useful:

The Blair Witch Project was the runaway success story of the movie industry in 1999. Visit the webpage:

Interested in independent films? Visit Always Independent Films. It offers more than 375 movies and trailers. It is one of at least two dozen sites showing films as filmmakers flock to what could be a new means of distribution -- the Internet. ( Other independent film sites, include Seattle's or San Francisco's

One of the most prestigious independent film festivals is run by the Sundance Institute. The 2000 film festival runs January 20-30, 2000. Click here for this year's schedule, description of films.

Disney is one of the largest media companies in the world. Review some of its history, current holdings (which include ABC TV and ESPN as well as the theme parks). Read about current controversies, business concerns. Click here for more on Disney.


Click here for January 18 class notes.

Click here for January 20 class notes.


Preparing for the exam? Click here for more sample questions and answers.

We've also drawn up a list of questions on the week 3 readings. We hope these questions will provide some guidance to you on what's important in the readings. Click here.

Week 4. January 24-28, 2000.

Exam 1. Tuesday, January 25.

Thursday, January 28: Television.


Packet: Todd Gitlin, "TV and American Culture: Flat and Happy."

Gloria Steinem, "Sex, Lies and Advertising."

Click here for class notes for January 27 (on independent film).

Click here for questions on week 4 readings.

Click here for the media analysis assignment.

Click here for midterm examination scores, distribution.

Information on jobs in communications, #1.

Week 5. January 31-February 4, 2000.

Click here for information on the School of Communications.

Contemporary television.


Packet: "Stung by Criticisms of the New Fall shows, TV Networks Rush to Add Minority Roles."

Paul Espinosa, "The Rich Tapestry of Hispanic America is Virtually Invisible on Commercial Television."

Click here for questions to guide you to week 5 readings.

Interested in reading more about UPN and WB networks? Click here.

Interested in knowing more about the future of television? Click here.

Click here to read more about NBC's plans to hire more minorities.

Click here for February 1 class notes.

Click here for February 3 class notes.

Week 6. February 7-11, 2000.

Click here for information on jobs in Communications.

Click here for information on radio.

Legal limits on the press. What's the role of the news media?

Readings: Click here for questions to guide you through the Week 6 readings.

Iyengar, ix-xx, 3-32; 40-42.

Packet: "No Justice for Throwaway People," excerpt from "The 38 cases of September 1997," and Michael Fancher, 'Investigative report will stir your emotions, maybe stir us all to act."

"KOMO Announces it won't cover 'irresponsible or illegal' acts."

"Broadcast of Man's Death Rekindles a Debate in Los Angeles"

"British Paper's Sting Nets an Earl and a Scolding from a Judge"

Click here for February 8 class notes.

Click here for more information on the new women's cable network, Oxygen.

Click here for February 10 class notes.

Week 7. February 14-18, 2000.

Defining what's news.

Click here for Exam 2 Review Sheet.

For some tips on interviewing for media jobs, click here.

Readings: Click here for questions to guide you through the week 7 readings.

Iyengar, 57-65, 77-81, 89-98, 103-117; 401-408.

Packet: Howard Kurtz, "Ho Hum ĎHistoricí Event."

Click here for February 15 class notes.

Click here for February 17 class notes.

Click here for practice exam questions.

 Week 8. February 21-25, 2000.

Exam 2. Tuesday, February 22.

Thursday, February 24. News and the political process.

Click here for February 24 class notes.

Click here for questions to guide you through the week 8 readings.

Readings: Iyengar: 101-2; 118-125; 132-137; 143-148, 248-257;258-275; 319-322; 349-363; 420-431.

Packet: "Meet the man who buffs Clinton's image."

"GOP, taking a Page from Clinton's Play Book, Wants Members to Say the Right Thing to Voters."

 Week 9. February 28-March 3, 2000.

Click here for week 9 readings.

Click here for midterm #2 scores.

Click here for midterm #2 frequencies.


Readings: Iyengar, 156-164; 181-194; 276-282; 283-286; 287-295

Click here for February 28 class notes.

Click here for March 2 class notes.

Click here for questions from students in the class and answers to the questions (on a variety of topics, ranging from majoring in communications, current TV issues or the final exam).

Click here for an article from EXTRA on race in entertainment TV. (Optional reading if you are interested in the topic).

Week 10. March 6-10, 2000.

Lectures will focus on new media.

Click here for March 7 class notes.

Click here for March 9 class notes.

Click here for questions on readings.


Packet: Rebecca Raney, "Former Wrestlerís Campaign Got a Boost From the Internet."

 Click here for review sheet for exam 3.

 Click here for an example of a new show (an excerpt from a good student term paper).

Click here for sample test questions.

Third exam: Monday, March 13, 2000. 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Click here for distribution on final exam

Click here for final exam scores.