Political Science 3360
Politics and Mass Media
Professor Roy Edward Casagranda

Spring 2003
Section: 06703
TTh 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Room: 120-M
Office: PGH 436
Phone: 281-357-3741
Email: Roy.Casagranda@mail.uh.edu
Office Hours: TTh 1:00-1:45
Syllabus: www.casagranda.com/POLS3360.html (case sensitive)
Student Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/POLS3360
Orwell’s Essay: “Politics and the English Language” www.casagranda.com/orwellpolitics.html

But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen.  Everything in it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites often. It is false down to its bowels.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

'VOICE' - the monthly radio magazine program in the Eastern Service of the B.B.C. (Left to right, sitting) Venu Chitale, J. M. Tambimuttu, T. S. Eliot, Una Marson, Mulk Raj Anand, C. Pemberton, Narayana Menon; (standing) George Orwell, Nancy Barrat, William Empson (Copyright BBC)

This is an undergraduate lecture class on the effects and role of mass media in politics. Its primary emphasis will be upon US domestic and foreign politics.  This course will seek to address fundamental questions and concepts related to theories of politics and media, as well as to inform students of the current state of world events and the role of the media in them. The aim is not, however, limited to merely acquiring theoretical or factual data. In fact at this time when so much is at stake this lecture class has become an examination of the viability of democracy.

Class Attendance: All members of the class will be expected to participate actively and regularly. The professor may drop anyone who has missed four class sessions or more.

Readings: You will read from the textbook and the supplemental texts in preparation for every class session. The lecture will not necessarily follow the readings, however, students should ask questions regarding the reading at the beginning of each lecture.  You will be responsible for all material assigned and discussed in class even if not present for such discussions; people with excused absences are still responsible for any missed material.

Academic Dishonesty: Work tainted by dishonesty has no academic value. University Rules and Regulations define academic dishonesty as the following acts among others: cheating; knowingly assisting another student to cheat; plagiarism; and unauthorized possession of examinations. Any act of academic dishonesty will automatically result in a grade of "zero" for affected work. In addition, any act of academic dishonesty will be referred to University authorities for disciplinary action where harsher penalties are likely to be mediated out.  Plagiarism is a serious offense.  It is often dealt with by being failed from the class, but harsher penalties such as probation, suspension, and expulsion can be meted out to plagiarists.

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
W. H. Auden
Norris, Pippa | A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies | Cambridge Univ Pr/0521793645
Patterson, Thomas | Out of Order | Vintage Books; Reprint edition/0679755101
Graber, Dorris | Mass Media and American Politics | CQ Press; 6th edition/1568026358
Herman, Edward and Noam Chomsky | Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media | Pantheon Books; (January 15, 2002)/0375714499
Parenti, Michael | Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media | Bedford/St. Martin's; 2nd edition/0312020139
Finkelstein, Norman | Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict | Verso Books; 2nd edition/1859843395

Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed by Ralph Schoenman
9-11 by Noam Chomsky
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High Finance Fraudsters by Greg Palast
Democracy for the Few by Michael Parenti
Media Power in Politics by Doris A. Graber (Editor)
Taken by Storm: The Media, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf War (American Politics and Political Economy Series) by W. Lance Bennett (Editor), David L. Paletz (Editor)
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering by Norman G. Finkelstein
Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (South End Press Classics Series) by Naom Chomsky, Edward W. Said
Acts of Aggression: Policing Rogue States (Open Media Series) by Noam Chomsky, Edward W. Said (Contributor)
Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media (Open Media Series) by Robert W. McChesney, John Nichols, Barbara Ehrenreich
1984 by George Orwell

The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.
Malcom X
Over the course of the semester you will be required to write 3 three-page essays, periodic media analyses, and a case study of six to nine pages.

Three-page Papers: The 3 three-page papers will concern an essential concept or basic theoretical issue relating to the media and politics. You will be expected to address fundamental theoretical issues, not merely technical questions. You may have to read unassigned material relating to the subject. Papers should be edited for grammar, punctuation, consistency of thought, theoretical soundness, and spelling. Do not let the length of the paper confuse you. These review essays should be treated with professional and academic care. Note: the three-page essays are not summaries! Do not summarize! Reading comprehension is a given at the junior level. These review essays must transcend the obvious. They need to tackle the substance of issues.

Periodic Media Reviews: Each student is required to write 5 one-page media reviews.  These will be assigned and explained during the course.

Case Study: There will also be a 6 to 9 page case study.  Throughout the semester each student should consider a topic area related to politics and mass media that interests them. There will be several topics brought up in class: El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam, Palestine-Israel, Iraq, etc. Students may write their case study based on these topics or other topics that get the professor’s approval.  Topics may be domestic or foreign. Throughout the semester students are encouraged to chose at least two main stream media sources (e.g. New York Times, ABC, CNN, etc.) and follow their portrayal of chosen Case Study topic areas.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill


Tentative Readings Schedule

January 14: Introduction and George Orwell
January 16, 21, & 23: Norris
January 28, 30, February 4, & 6: Patterson
February 11: First three-page paper due

February 11, 13, 18, & 20: Graber
February 25, 27, March 18, & 20: Herman & Chomsky
March 4 & 6: Spring Break
March 11 & 13: Research days
March 18: 1st Case Study Proposal due
March 25: Second three-page paper due

March 25, 27, April 1, & 3: Parenti
April 8: 2nd Case Study Proposal due
April 8, 10, 15, & 17: Finkelstein
April 22: Third three-page paper due

April 22 & 24: Future and Possibilities
May 6, 2:00 PM: Final Draft of Case Study is Due

Who controls the past controls the future:
who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell '1984' (1949)

Final Grade Criteria

The final grade will be calculated as a sum of the following components. Each component will receive a simple percentage, which will then be multiplied by the points it is worth.

1st Three-Page Paper    5
2nd Three-Page Paper  15
3rd Three-Page Paper   25

Periodic media reviews 10

Case Study                   35

Participation/Improvement 10

Total 100

For example a person getting 70% on the Case Study assignment will get 24.5 points towrad her or his final grade. A person getting an 80% on the first three-page essay will receive 4.0 points toward her or his final grade.