Murray State University

College of Business and Public Affairs

Department of Journalism and Mass Communications


Syllabus and General Guide                                                              Spring 2005

I. Course title

JMC 601 - Seminar in Media, Culture, Race and Gender

Class times:  Wednesday 2-5 p.m.     Meeting room: 115 Wilson


Instructor:  Dr. Debbie Owens

Office: 805 FA            Hours: Mon 10-12, 1-2, 4-5:30; Tue/Thu 5-5:30; Fri

                                    1-5:30; and by appointment made one day in advance

Phone:  762-6318        E-mail:

II.  Catalog


An analysis of theories and research in mass media influences on images of culture, race and gender in our society. Focus on the role of news, entertainment and advertising media in the construction and perpetuation of systemic views about members of these particular groups. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and the permission of the instructor.

III.  Purpose of

       the course

To expand students’ cultural perspectives on the media industry and enhance their skills of critical analyses of media messages.  To facilitate students’ understanding of the historical, social, cultural and political complexities of the industry. To provide students the means with which to examine organizational practices and institutional policies and the impact of these elements on media messages about culture, race and gender in our society.

IV. Expected


      outcomes and



At the conclusion of JMC 601, students should be able to:

      1) Demonstrate an understanding of why an awareness of diversity is             important for communications and mass media practitioners;

2)      Make critical judgments about the way in which media cover topics about race, culture and gender;

3)      Determine how language, text, and visual symbols in the mass media influence opinions, attitudes and behaviors toward certain populations in society;

4)      Recognize and evaluate stereotypes of racial/ethnic groups, women and others that appear in media messages;

5)      Formulate research strategies to evaluate media messages to assess the degree of cultural inclusiveness or exclusiveness;

6)      Identify institutional policies and professional practices that have an impact on hiring and retention of people from traditionally marginalized groups in society;

7)      Use the knowledge acquired from prior Journalism courses, coupled with concepts and techniques learned in this course to compare and contrast traditional versus alternative media coverage of various non mainstream groups in society;

8)      Demonstrate a knowledge of major contributions made by women and other groups to the media industry; and

9)      Examine their own assumptions regarding media messages about certain groups in society.


 V. Content  



The schedule of readings, instructional activities, and assignment due dates appears below.


A.   Racial Diversity in the Land of Majority Rule

B.    Media Functions in a Culturally Diverse Society

C.    Entertainment Media Portrayals

D.    Non-entertainment Media Portrayals

E.    News as Social Construction

F.    Marginalization of Culture, Race and Gender

G.    Portrayals of Women

H.    Minorities in the Production of News Media

I.     Women in the Production of News Media

J.    Advocacy: Pressuring the Media to Change

K.   Language, Speech and Media Messages

L.   Workforce Access: Journalistic Training and Fair Standards

M.  Media Diversity and Class Communication

N.  Mainstream Media Versus Alternative Media

VI. Instructional


Lectures, guest speakers, discussions, readings, handouts, reports, presentations, and a research project/proposal design, which may include database and library research.


VII. Field and



 May be required if they are part of the project proposal/design.


VIII. References/


Resources employed will include books, documents and databases available online, and through the Waterfield Library.

IX.  Grading


The final grade for the course will be determined by the following items:

Reaction paper                (200 points)

Discussion/Facilitation      (150 points)

Media Monitoring Report (100 points)

Quizzes and Exams           (200 points)

Final Project/Presentation  (350 points)


The grading scale for this class will be as follows:

A=900-1000                   B=800-899

C=700-799                     D=600-699               E=below  600 points


There are no provisions for “extra credit” in this course. The grade of “I” (Incomplete) will only be assigned in cases of proven extenuating circumstances keeping the student from completing assignments and some relatively small part of the terms work remains undone. There will be NO MAKEUP assignments for in-class exercises and quizzes. 


 X. Attendance


Students are expected to attend every class. Unexcused absences and lateness will affect final grade.



XI. Academic



Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. For details of this policy, see the current issue of the Graduate Bulletin and


XII. Text and


Wilson, Clint C., Gutierrez, Felix, and Chao, Lena M., Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003.; and Biagi, Shirley and Kern-Foxworth, Marilyn, Facing Difference: Race, Gender, and Mass Media, Pine Forge, CA: 1997. In addition to textbook readings, students will also be expected to read additional material placed on Reserve in Waterfield Library. Students are expected to complete the reading assigned for each class. Questions from course readings may show up on examinations even though they are not covered in class.


XIII. Course                  Prerequisites

Graduate standing and permission from the instructor.


XIV. Biased    language

All seminar participants are expected to respect people's diversity and to be aware of the various ways in which language can be discriminatory. Thus, everyone should avoid using biased language both in class and in their assignments.


XV. Code of ethics

Faculty and staff of the University strive to uphold the responsibilities of the educational profession and maintain the highest ethical standards. For details on the “Code of Ethics” policy within the College of Business and Public Affairs, access


XVI. Statement of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity


Murray State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, marital status, age, or disability in employment, admission or the provision of services, educational programs and activities, and provides, upon request, reasonable accommodation including auxiliary aids and services necessary to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in all programs and activities.  For information regarding nondiscrimination policies contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, 270-762-3155 (V) or 270-762-3311 (TDD).













XVII. Course Requirements:


Required Readings: To help keep the course stimulating and the discussions relevant, participants are expected to complete the assigned readings prior to class.


Discussion/Facilitation: Each student will be responsible for leading at least one class discussion based on the readings for a particular session. Student schedules will be arranged by the fourth week of classes.


Reaction Paper: Students will write one 1,000-word critical review of an article (or articles) from the Biagi and Kern-Foxworth textbook or Reserved Readings in the syllabus. The review should relate to a particular issue addressed in the Wilson, Gutierrez and Chao  textbook and any other relevant material. All papers must be typed, or they

will lose points. All papers will be graded using the scoring guide (rubric) below. Assignments are due at the start of class. Papers turned in after class on the day they are due will lose one letter grade immediately, and an additional full letter grade each day thereafter. Only typed papers are acceptable. Comply with standard formats. The American Psychological Association (APA) is the preferred style book for this course; however, you may select another book, such as the Chicago Manual. In any case, stick with one format, do not mix styles, throughout the paper.


Monitoring Media Technology Form: By completing this form, students will explore one of the methods used by media researchers to code specific items for analysis of media messages. The objective here is to encourage students to apply concepts that they have learned to their own observations of media messages.


Final Project/Proposal & Presentation: After discussion and approval from the instructor, each student will choose a specific topic to research as part of the final project. The term project may involve some form of media monitoring or critical analysis of local media content; however, a student may investigate an issue more relevant to his or her particular field of communication. Students will write a minimum of a 3000-word paper/research proposal and present their work in class. All work must be typed using Word 5.0 (or higher). Submit both a hard copy and a copy on either an IBM compatible 3.5-inch, 2HD-formatted disk or a CD. There will be NO exceptions to these requirements.


Plan ahead to succeed in this course. Here are some key elements to remember:


đThe research topic must be approved by the instructor. Start exploring        research possibilities early.

đChoose a topic that interests you. Given the time constraints, while your efforts may not result in a comprehensive research project, you are expected to produce an original project befitting the level of a graduate student.

đYou can approach your topic from a variety of perspectives; choose an approach which not only interests you but is best suited for the particular field of study as well.

đYour bibliographic citations should include articles mainly from research journals in your respective fields. In limited cases, well-scrutinized websites are acceptable as well. Also, you may cull some initial ideas from books or even trade magazines; however, you should not rely solely on these sources as they do not constitute original research.


JMC 601-Selected Bibliography                                           Dr. Debbie Owens


XVIII. References: Books and Journal Articles

Beasely, Maurine H. & Gibbons, Sheila J., “Women’s Magazines,” in Taking Their Place: A History of Women and Journalism, Washington, DC: American University, 1993: 205-221.


Bridge, Junior. “Slipping From the Scene: News Coverage of Females,” in Facing Difference: Race, Gender and Mass Media ,Shirley Biagi & Marilyn Kern-Foxworth (eds.), CA: Pine Forge, 1997: 102-112.


Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, Newswatch Project, CA: San Francisco State University, 1994-99.


Cortes, Carlos E. The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach About Diversity, New York: Teachers College, 2000.


Creedon, Pamela. “Framing Feminism: A Feminist Primer for the Media,” Media Studies Journal, (1993) 8:69-80.


Dates, Jannette & Pease, Edward. “Warping the World: Media Mangled Images of Race,” Media Studies Journal, (1994), 8:88-95.


Delgado, Humberto & Veraldi, Lorna. Spanish-Language Television: From Bold Experiment to American Mainstream,” Television Quarterly, (2003) 34(1):30-34.


El-Nawawy, Mohammed. “Why Al-Jazeera is the Most Popular Network in the Arab World,” Television Quarterly, (2003) 34(1):10-15.


Inniss, Leslie B. & Feagin, Joe. “The Cosby Show: The View From the Middle Class,” in Say It Loud! African American Audiences, Identity and Media, Robin Means-Coleman (ed.). NY: Routledge, 2002:187-204.


Holden, V.S., Holden, W., & Davis, G. “The sports Team Nickname Controversy,” in Facing Difference, pp.69-75.


Johnson, Sharon. “Behind Closed Doors,” Written By, (Dec-Jan 2000) 4(1): 36-41.

Lafky, Sue. “Women in Broadcast News,” in Women and Media: Content, Careers and Criticism  Cynthia M. Lont (ed.), Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1995: 251-260.


Marlane, Judith. “Minorities and Mandates,” in Women in Television News Revisited, Austin, TX: University of Texas, 1999: 95-109.


Means-Coleman, Robin. Say It Loud! African American Audiences, Identity and Media,  New York: Routledge, 2002.


Miller, John. “Immigration, the Press, and the New Racism,” Media Studies Journal, (1994),8:33-47.


Nelson, Jack. “Broken Images: Portrayals of Those With Disabilities in America,” in The Disabled, the Media and the Information Age, Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994: 1-17.


Owens, Debbie A. “Media Messages, Self-Identity and Race Relations,” in Say It Loud! African American Audiences, Identity and Media, Robin Means-Coleman (ed). NY: Routledge, 2002:77-93.


Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Report), NY: New York Times, 1968: 362-389.


Signorielli, Nancy. “Aging on Television: Messages Relating to Gender, Race, and Occupation in Prime Time,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media (2004), 48(2): 279-301.


The Missouri School of Journalism. Guide to Research on Race and News, MO: University of Missouri, 2000. 


Warner, Fara. “Imperfect Picture: Advertisers Adjust To Women’s Roles,” in Facing Difference, pp. 223-224.


Williams, Vanessa, “Aren’t We Beyond Seeing Diversity As A Burden?”, The American Editor, December 1998:9.


Wilson, Jean G. “Sexism, Racism and Other ‘isms,’” in Facing Difference, pp. 45-51.


Wilson, Clint C., Gutierrez, Felix, and Chao, Lena M. Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003.


Wong, William. “Covering the Invisible ‘Model Minority,’” Media Studies Journal, (1994), 8:49-59.




Selected Web sites and web links - (http://)


Selected Videotapes

“Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood,” (AMC)

 “Birth of a Nation,” film excerpts, The History Channel

“Ethnic Notions” by Marlon Riggs, California Newsreel, 1987.

“Crime Coverage Handcuffed,” 1994.

“Soldiers Without Swords: The Black Press,” WTTW (PBS), February 1998.

“Taking Charge of Your TV,” The Family and Community Critical Viewing Project,

National Cable Television Association & National PTA.

“Reflections of Girls in the Media,” Dr. Mary Pipher, author of “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls,” at Children Now Meeting, Los Angeles

C-SPAN-Purdue University Archives, April 30, 1997.


XVIII. CLASS SCHEDULE and CONTENT OUTLINE: The course outline incorporates a variety of activities to stimulate class discussion and active participation. It indicates specific deadlines for readings and specific assignments. However, the value of this seminar depends on the extent to which participants are earnest about meeting the goals and committed to achieving the objectives of the course. Everyone’s participation and suggestions will help make the seminar more interesting and valuable to classmates.