MEDIA LITERACY is a way of thinking about the media; a way of deconstructing media messages to gain more control over them. In this class, we'll be deconstructing media content--photographs, newspaper articles, advertisements, tv shows, movies, documentaries, public relations materials, websites--and develop an understanding of how this media content influences us and how we in turn can influence others. We'll also discuss the importance of multiple points of view, and learn to identify our (U.S.) media's powerful leanings towards commercialism, individualism, and specific ideologies. This class aims to help you become media literate, but also to think more deeply about the media as they relate to citizenship and democracy. In all these ways this course builds on COM COR 1010 Mass Communication and Society.




  • Develop an understanding of the visual message--visual literacy.
  • Develop an understanding of semiotics--the meaning behind media messages.
  • Develop an understanding of ideology in the context of our media system.
  • Develop an understanding of the media in terms of its representation of gender and ethnicity. 
  • Develop an understanding of our commercial culture, especially in the context of advertising which targets your demographic.
  • Use these critical skills to critique the media (sometimes with the media).

THE CENTER FOR MEDIA LITERACY uses this definition: Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.



  • All media messages are constructed.
  • Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
  • Different people experience the same media message differently.
  • Media have embedded values and points of view
  • Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.




O'Shaugnessy, Michael and Stadler, Jane (2012). Media & Society, 5e. London. Oxford Press. AVAILABLE AT UNIVERSITY BOOK AND SUPPLY and elsewhere. A copy will be available for you on reserve at the Multimedia Service Center in Rod Library.


Reading and writing assignments are detailed in every class on the blackboard and frequently, but not always via a group e-mail after class. In the event of an absence students are advised to check e-mail then contact the instructor if no information is forthcoming through that channel.  


Media Literacy Resources page on my website will frequently contain learning enhancement materials throughout the semester. 


Students will be expected to take notes on the readings, participate in class discussions, and synthesize all information through journal and online discussion work.





The regular journal entries are intended to support discussion, comprehension and serve as the basis for other more formal written assignments. I consider your journals integral to this class and an important benchmark in your class participation. Most journal entries are expected to be one half to one full page of double-spaced text with standard margins and twelve point text. 


Absence and Tardiness Policy: After three unexcused absences a student's grade may be reduced at the discretion of the instructor. Absences are only excused with a doctor's signed and dated note on letterhead. Arrival five minutes after the scheduled start of the class is considered tardy. Three times tardy equals one full absence. 


COURSE GRADING: For all work, assume that average work merits an average grade "C." Work should be better than average to merit a grade in the "B" range, and excellent/exceptional to merit a grade in the "A" range. A Grade Point Average (GPA) formula will be used for grading. Your participation, including journal entries, will constitute 33% of your final grade. Projects, as assigned, 33% of your grade and the two exams which may be both short essay questions and practical the final 33%.


Plagiarism and cheating is strictly prohibited. All work should be your own; use of published material should be documented as such with citations and/or quotes. Plagiarism and/or cheating will result in an "F" for the course and university disciplinary action.





PLEASE DO NOT: Email me your journal (I WILL NOT ACCEPT IT).  PLEASE DO NOT: Put your journal entry under my door (I WILL NOT ACCEPT IT). I will also NOT print out your journal prior or after class in my office if your printer didn't happen to be working. I do not care to have your journal entries downloaded on my computer, so that I have to later find them and delete them. I WILL ONLY ACCEPT JOURNAL ENTRIES IN PRINTED FORM FROM YOU IN CLASS. Not in class, don't have a journal? YOU HAVE 3 MISSES. On the other hand, if you never have a miss, you will get some extra credit at the end of the semester.



The Writing Center offers one-on-one writing assistance open to all UNI undergraduate and graduate students. Writing Assistants offer strategies for getting started, citing and documenting, and editing your work. Visit the Online Writing Guide and schedule an appointment at 008 ITTC or 319-273-2361. The Math Center offers individual and small-group tutorials especially helpful for students in Liberal Arts Core math courses. No appointment is necessary, but contact the Math Center at 008 ITTC or 319-273-2361 to make certain a tutor will be available at a time convenient for you. The Reading and Learning Center provides an Ask-a-Tutor program, consultations with the reading specialist, and free, four-week, non-credit courses in Speed Reading, Effective Study Strategies, PPST-Reading and -Math, and GRE-Quantitative and Verbal. Visit this website and 008 ITTC or call 319-273-2361.     




The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from illegal discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Students requesting instructional accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodation through the Office of Disability Services. The ODS is located at 103 Student Health Center, phone number: 273-2676  


This syllabus, like life, is subject to changes.