COMM323: Comparative Media Systems

Course Syllabus for "COMM323: Comparative Media Systems"

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Whether you know it or not, you are actively contributing to a comprehensive media environment forged on both regional and global levels – even when you are privately using social media websites!  The media we use today has come a long way, but the basic pattern of development remains consistent.  This course introduces various academic theories, cases, and models to make sense of local and global media development.  How does a locally operated newspaper trigger development of the national mass media market?  How does a global conglomerate media company set agendas for international news distribution?  Consider how the following historical events may be connected: 1. In 1833, The Sun, a New York-based newspaper, became available to the general public for the first time.  This marked the beginning of the mass production of information and created a market sector that could be influenced by average people. 2. In 1995, conglomerate media company, News Corporation, headquartered in New York City, acquired the Hong Kong-based television network, Star TV.  This groundbreaking acquisition expanded News Corp.’s influence at an international level. 3. In 2005, New York-based journalist, Arianna Huffington, launched The Huffington Post, branded as “The Internet Newspaper.”  Huffington’s free newspaper utilized innovations such as user-contributed content and the rejection of information “gatekeeping.” 4. Also in 2005, the Chinese television show, Super Girl, had remarkable success when the season finale commanded the attention of 400 million viewers – a profoundly high viewership within the strictly governed Chinese media system.

How should we assess the impact of these events on local and global scales?  In this course, we will explore the ways stakeholders influence the media environment we live in today.  On local levels, we will discuss how media evolves under mass market and political influences, and during economic development.  On the global level, we will analyze global media conglomerates’ agendas for international news distribution.  Further, you will critically examine the ways new media technology allows the general population to access and actively contribute to social media content.  Selected theories and models of regional media systems are also examined in this course.  The thread between the aforementioned events will be illuminated throughout this course, and you will be asked to analyze the socio-cultural impact of each item. This comparative media course also provides a working knowledge of how media are operated and regulated under varied political and economic influences.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss competing academic theories, models, and critiques pertaining to various regional media systems.
  • Discuss, compare, and contrast the historical development, current scope, regional influences, and global influences of the media systems highlighted throughout this course.
  • Explain the significance of media consumption patterns and how global and domestic forces influence these patterns.
  • Name the organizations that are relevant to media and communications technologies, as well as their policies, current projects, and scopes of influence.
  • Discuss the impact of global media conglomerates in non-Western nations.
  • Examine various forms of new media and its impact on consumers, advertisers, and traditional ways of producing media content.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g.  Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to COMM 323: Comparative Media Systems.  General information on this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Li Liu

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a variety of free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following source(s):

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam

Time Commitment: This course should take a total of 139 hoursto complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, unit 1 should take 9 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 2 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 1 hours) on Tuesday night; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.