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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Faiza Hirji

Email: hirjif@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 305

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21480


Office Hours: Thursday, 12:30-1:30 PM or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Objectives

  • To understand the operations of various media organizations
  • To understand the social and political context within which media organizations operate
  • To acquire the ability to research and analyze a specific media organization
  • To improve critical thinking and communication skills

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Text: There is one coursepack for this course. Other readings as assigned, available on-line or through reserves.

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements:

Participation                                       10%                            

Organizational analysis                       20%                 due in class January 26, 2015

In-class quizzes          (2 x 5%)          10%                 February 9 & March 9, 2015

Essay proposal                                   10%                 due in class February 23, 2015

Essay                                                  20%                 due in class April 2, 2015       

Final exam (cumulative)                     25%                 during the scheduled exam period

Note: Omitting to submit any of the above assignments may result in automatic failure.


Students are expected to attend class regularly and on time, and to participate in a manner that reflects knowledge of the assigned readings. This includes contribution to discussion, answering questions, and participating in any online class discussion through Avenue to Learn. Disruptive behaviour (e.g. talking during class, texting or talking on cellphones) will negatively affect the participation mark.

A smaller group discussion will be organized for this class. Once the semester is underway, the class will be organized through Avenue to Learn into three groups (1, 2, and 3). Each group will meet every third week, following the schedule noted below. This will be an opportunity to participate in a smaller group and to explore and debate issues in more depth.

Organizational analysis:

Students will analyze a media organization with a public service orientation (this can be Canadian or international). In their analysis, students will provide brief background information about the organization, and any challenges that it currently faces. They will also discuss whether or not this organization appears to be viable in the long term. They will draw upon appropriate theoretical concepts in structuring their analysis. The analysis should be a maximum 4 pages, double-spaced and typed, in length. It is due on January 26, 2015 in class.

In-class quizzes:

On two separate occasions during the semester (February 9 and March 9), students will be presented with a short quiz regarding recently studied content. This can include material from lecture, guest lectures and/or readings. The format may include a mix of multiple choice, true/false and short answer. Each quiz is worth 5%. Quizzes wil take place in class.


Students will write a final essay, choosing from a list of topics suggested by the instructor. The final essay should be 8-10 pages long, double-spaced and typed, formatted using MLA or APA, and must include a bibliography. It should incorporate theoretical content from the course as well as outside research. This assignment is due in class on April 2, 2015. E-mailed assignments will not be accepted. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each weekday after the deadline (e.g. an A grade becomes an A-, a C- becomes a D+, and so on). For your own protection, always keep a copy of any assignment you hand in.

NOTE: You must submit your own original work, completed independently. Work that has been submitted elsewhere, uses unattributed passages from the work of others, or that has been borrowed from another source, is considered plagiarism and the consequences may be severe. Please see below for further information regarding McMaster’s policy on academic integrity.

Final exam:

The exam will take place during the scheduled exam period. Students are expected to answer all the questions using concepts learned from course readings and lecture material over the course of the semester. The format will be short answer/essay.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Missed/Late Work:

Missed assignments due to illness, death in the family, etc.

Students who cannot complete assignments due to medical or family emergencies should contact the instructor as soon as possible, and must submit official certificates to their home faculty office for review.

Students with disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140, ext. 2865 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities. 

Religious accommodation

Students who require accommodation due to religious holidays or events should contact the instructor and their home faculty office at the beginning of the semester to discuss alternate arrangements for assignment submission.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


(Schedule of Readings will be provided at the first class)

January 5-8: Introductions; Theories of organizations

January 12-15: Under pressure: Public service models

Group 1 meets

January 19-22: Going against the flow: International media

Group 2 meets

January 26-29: The world of print, Part I: Newspapers in a digital world 

Group 3 meets **Organizational analysis due**

February 2-5: The world of print, Part II: Books and magazines

Group 1 meets

February 9-12: It’s all about the sell: Marketing and advertising

Group 2 meets **Quiz**

February 16-20: Winter break! No classes.

February 23-26: “It’s the pictures that got small”: Perspectives on the film industry

Group 3 meets **Essay proposal due**

March 2-5: The sound of music: Radio, regulation and the new music order

Group 1 meets

March 9-12: I want my MTV: The new television landscape

Group 2 meets **Quiz**

March 16-19: Rise of the machines: The online world

Group 3 meets

March 23-26: Top down or bottom up? Alternative media

Group 1 meets

March 30-April 2: Broadened horizons: Diasporic media

Group 2 meets **Essays due**

April 6-7: Review

Group 3 meets

Exam will be scheduled during the examination period, April 10-30


Other Course Information:

Email & On-line Learning

It is the policy of the CSMM Department that all email communication between students and instructors (including TAs) must originate from their official McMaster University email accounts. This policy protects the confidentiality and sensitivity of information and confirms the identities of both the student and instructor. Messages that do not originate from McMaster email accounts will be deleted.

Note also that in this course we will be using Avenue to Learn, McMaster’s electronic learning management system. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.