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COMM323: Comparative Media Systems

Unit 1: Media Systems Within the United States   *In this unit, you will be introduced to a working definition of the term “media systems.” Media system can be generally understood as network of mass media outlets, including TV, radio, newspaper, and the Internet in a given national context; moreover, media system also refers to the complicated relationship among such mass media outlets and the society where they were established and operated. With this in mind, it makes sense to conceptualize the term with a group of intersecting areas of study that incorporate political science, sociology, and economics. At the beginning of this unit, we will introduce two foundational theoretical frameworks in comparative media study that each offers you comprehensive view of media system and the group of intertwining influences. You will learn about the foundation scholarship published in the Four Theories of the Press, published in 1963, which set forth four media system models, each situated in unique political and social environment.

Following an introduction of these two theoretical frameworks, you will begin the exploration with an overview of media development in the United States. You will learn about the age of yellow journalism, mass distribution of newspapers, and the establishment of the Associated Press – one of the oldest news agencies in the world. This unit also focuses on the ways printed media promotes social change, which in turn, supports media development. Such mutual influence and close relationship resonates with both theoretical framework we read earlier in the unit, and lays the groundwork for your understanding of media system evolution within particular national contexts. Later in this course, this foundational knowledge will enable you to effectively compare and contrast a variety of media systems.*

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 16 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4.5: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.5: 3 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Define media systems in varied theoretical contexts. - Discuss major developments in the United States’ media development. - Explain the functions and responsibilities of the Federal Communications Commission.

1.1 Media Systems: Overview of Important Theory   1.1.1 Four Theories of the Press   - Reading: Preserve Articles: Praveen Karthik’s “What are the Four Theories of the Press?” Link: Preserve Articles: Praveen Karthik’s “What are the Four Theories of the Press?” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read the article in its
entirety.  While reading, consider how each of the theories defines
the nature and function of the press.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 Early Newspapers in the United States   1.2.1 Colonial American Newspapers   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 4.1 History of Newspaper” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 4.1 History of Newspaper” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read “Section
4.1”.  As you read through this chapter, pay attention to the
correlation between newspaper development and political influence in
the U.S.  For example, early colonial newspapers typically excluded
political content to avoid confrontation from colonial authorities.
 The close ties between politics and press that are presented in
this reading should encourage you to continue your reflection on
media systems within the framework of the Four Theories of the
Press.  

 Note: This reading also covers the information outlined in
sub-subunits 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.3.1, and 1.3.2.  

 Reading this section should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.2.2 The Trial of John Peter Zenger   *Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below sub-subunit 1.2.1.

Focus on the text below the heading, “the trial of John Peter Zenger,” as well as “Freedom of the Press in the early United States,” which come right after the section on “Colonial American Newspapers.”  During this monumental trial, John Peter Zenger, founder of the New York Weekly Journal, a publication that openly criticizes the newly appointed colonial governor, faced charges of producing “scandalous, virulent, false and seditious reflections” in his papers.  Zenger’s verdict marked changes in the press-government relationship: instead of avoiding political content, newspapers began to target political figures and openly shared editorial comments on current political issues.  Such increased freedom of the press, in return, played an influential role in the independent war and formation of political parties.*

1.3 Newspapers as a Form of Mass Media   1.3.1 The Penny Press: The Sun   *Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below sub-subunit 1.2.1.

Focus on the text below the heading “Newspapers as a form of mass media,” which includes sections on “the Penny Press” and “growth of wire services.”  The introduction of the penny press set a unique historical stage for the newspaper to be treated as a commodity and a vehicle for political discussion.  While completing this reading consider the new dynamics within the government-press relationship.  Why was the penny press much more successful than its predecessors?  What are the approaches or focuses they chose to adopt?  To what degree should a market be matured enough, in terms of both depth and scope, to support a penny press like this?*

1.3.2 Public Taste Gone Wild: Yellow Journalism   *Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below sub-subunit 1.2.1.

Focus on the text below the heading, “Yellow Journalism” and “comics and stunt journalism,” which comes right after “growth of wire services.”  As you move on with the reading of the US newspaper history, ask yourself: what is the definition of the term sensationalism in this context?  Why did stories focused on crime, violence, emotion, and sex in the early 1800’s enjoy such popularity in the press?  How does this connect to the emergence of newspaper as a form of mass media and the maturity of the mass media market as we discussed earlier in 1.3.1?  This session marks the end of our reading on early US newspaper history.*

1.3.3 The Associated Press   - Reading: The Associated Press: “AP’s History” Link: The Associated Press: “AP’s History” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above to read the history of
the Associated Press – one of the world’s oldest news agencies,
established in 1846.  Several journalists who have worked for the
Associated Press have won the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered as
the highest level of professional recognition in journalism.  You
will also learn how AP journalists have had to adapt to advancing
technology in writing and new distribution.  While completing this
reading, further consider the framework of the Four Theories of the
Press.  Which theories are most prominently reflected in the
development of the Associated Press?  

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.4 Divergent Taste in Mass Media: The New York Times   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 4.3: How Newspapers Control the Public’s Access to Information and Impact American Pop Culture” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 4.3: How Newspapers Control the Public’s Access to Information and Impact American Pop Culture” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read “Section
4.3”.  While completing this reading, think critically about the
*New York Times*’ editorial decision-making, especially during the
1993 debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),
when the newspaper was criticized for exercising editorial control
over information.  Consider this reading within the context of the
two theoretical frameworks introduced earlier in this unit.  

 *Note: This lecture also covers the information outlined in
sub-subunit 1.3.5.*  

 Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.3.5 The Emergence of Watchdog Journalism   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication “Section 4.2: Different Styles and Models of Journalism” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 4.2: Different Styles and Models of Journalism” (PDF)

 Instructions:  Please click on the link above and read Section
4.2.  

 Reading this section should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.4 The Current Media Market in the United States   1.4.1 Characteristics of Media Industries   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 13.1: Characteristics of Media Industries” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Section 13.1: Characteristics of Media Industries” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read “Section
13.1”.  As you complete this reading, pay particular attention to
the three major media business models: monopoly, oligopoly, and
monopolistic competition.  What are the specific conditions they
each require?  How might they impact media content and
distribution?  Can you think of any real life examples?  This
chapter will highlight how the media market and media business model
may impact individual media outlets as well as the overall media
system, which will serve as a good reminder for us to relate to
factors coming from outside of government policies and regulations
on media development.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.4.2 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)   - Reading: United States Federal Communications Commission: “What We Do” Link: United States Federal Communications Commission: “What We Do” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read through the
“What We Do” page.  Relate the information from this FCC webpage to
the three major media business models covered in the previous
subunit: monopoly, oligopoly, and monopolistic competition.  What
kind of business model does the FCC seeks to either encourage or
discourage?  How does the FCC exercise its influence on the U.S.
media market?  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.4.3 The U.S. Radio Market   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Chapter 7: Radio” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Chapter 7: Radio” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read through all
of Chapter 7 to get an overview of radio as a mass medium.  Please
pay attention to radio’s impact on culture: radio was such an
influential medium during the 1930s; so much so, that many people
believed that a radio program based on Well’s science fiction novel
of invading aliens was actual news broadcasting, which produced
social unrest.  Also, pay attention to radio’s new future with the
introduction of the Internet.  Once again, we need to tie the
learning experience back to the Four Theories of the Press: the
development of radio as a mass media offered us a good example to
see the importance of social responsibility and how it should, and
can, be regulated.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.4.4 The U.S. Television Market   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Chapter 9: Television” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication: “Chapter 9: Television” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read through
Chapter 9.  While reading, consider the significance of the chapter,
beginning with the national strike for fairer pay, which included
more than 12,000 film, television, and radio writers in November
2007.  Ultimately, this strike resulted in a new trend of delivering
content through web-based channels, like iTunes and Hulu.  As you
complete this reading, please pay attention to some of the unique
trends in the TV industry, including corporate sponsorship, public
television, and cable TV network.  Also, pay attention to new
trends, including iTV, Hulu, and YouTube.  The variety shows us how
the TV industry responds to an ever-changing media market.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: The text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
[CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensee.

1.4.5 Case Study: The Merger between NBC Universal and Comcast   - Reading: The Washington Post: Cecilia Kang’s “Planned Comcast-NBC Merger Ignites TV Access Battle” Link: The Washington Post: Cecilia Kang’s “Planned Comcast-NBC Merger Ignites TV Access Battle” (HTML) 

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire
article.  This article offers an in-depth look at the stakeholders
involved in the Comcast-NBC merger and provides a wonderful
opportunity to review what you learned in this unit.  Consider the
following questions as you read: can you relate the information to
the Four Theories of the Press?   In the context of media industry
competition models, is the merger producing a monopoly, an
oligopoly, or monopolistic competition?  Finally, what is the role
of the FCC in this case, and was it effective?  You should be able
to support your reasoning with examples.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.5 Unit 1 Discussion   - Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM323 Course Discussion Board” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “COMM323 Course Discussion Board”

 Instructions: After reviewing the unit materials, please post and
respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. 
Feel free to start your own thread or respond to other students’
postings.  

-   What has been the definition of the term sensationalism in the
    historical context of the early US newspaper?  Why would stories
    focused on crime, violence, emotion, and sex in the early 1800’s
    enjoy such popularity in the press?  Can you relate this account
    to our day?
-   Concerning the three major media business models (monopoly,
    oligopoly, and monopolistic), what are the specific conditions
    they each require?  How might they impact media content and
    distribution?  Can you think of any real life examples?

Posting and responding on the discussion board should take
approximately 3 hours.