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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Communications (COMM)

COMM 168 (GH) American Journalism: Values, Traditions, and Practices (3) This course is designed to give students a broad overview of American journalism, its past, present and future; its traditions, principles and values.

COMM 168 American Journalism: Values, Traditions, and Practices (3)

This course is aimed at consumers of news. This course will appeal to students with varying backgrounds who have an interest in how and why the news is gathered, presented, and marketed the way it is. This course explores where the American news business has come from, where it is now, and where it is going. The principles, practices and traditions of American journalism are studied. Students will gain an understanding of how a confluence of financial and competitive pressures is changing -- and in some cases, distorting -- journalism’s institutions and values. This will be a team taught course involving faculty from the College of Communications as well as guest presenters from the news industry.

The first few weeks of the course focus on the historic development of the American press from the Colonial period to the present. The legal and constitutional framework under which the news media operate in the United States are also examined. The second segment will look at a news organization’s obligations to its community, and a journalist’s duty to uphold core values: seek the truth, act independently and be accountable. The role American journalism played in crucial times of the country’s history, such as the abolition movement, the great reforms, the Civil Rights era and in cleaning up political corruption are also examined. Students will also gain an understanding of how these principles have begun to fray under financial and corporate pressures in the hothouse environment of the Internet age. Considerable effort will be devoted to making sure students understand the differences in news standards among, for example, major national newspapers and unedited web sites or politically-oriented cable networks. The course will discuss the economic realities of the news as a business. How newspapers and broadcast outlets traditionally made their money and why that is eroding. Finally, students will get some “hands on” experience through exercises that will require them to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable journalism, and spot flaws in journalistic practice.

Students will be required to do independent research in historical archives and assess how the news media covered major events. Each student will be part of a group to make a presentation to the class on one of several major topics. Students will also be required to write a book review and a film review. There will also be one major exam. Depending on the size of the class, discussion and debate will be encouraged.

General Education: GH
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2011

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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