This course is designed
to expose students to the history and processes which create, influence and regulate Mass Media and Journalism in America. Analysis of the legal, political and organic
elements of media policy will be examined including significant Supreme Court rulings regarding communications matters. Extensive
analysis of the ethics in mass media and journalism will also be a major component of the class. Class will include discussion
and analysis of current examples of ethical and policy matters facing Communications professionals and journalists.
The objective of
the course is allow students to gain an understanding of how mass media has been structured and continues to be influenced
by many diverse in elements ranging from congress, the courts, capitalism and public sentiment.
course requires a minimum proficiency in reading and writing English. Students must be able to prepare assignments in printed
text form either through computer or typewriters.Hand written assignments, except
those prepared in class, will not be accepted.
we only meet once each week, attendance at all classes is extremely important and expected.Any more than three absences may subject the student to a reduced grade. If you must miss a class, please let me know
IN ADVANCE of your absence.Material covered in missed classes is the responsibility
of the student and absence does not excuse assignments from being submitted on time. Media
is a deadline-based business and so all assignments are due when indicated on this syllabus or as instructed in class. Late
assignments will be reduced in grade.Assignments may be emailed only by prior
the courtesy of fellow students and in order to fully get the most out of the course; please make every effort to get to class
on time.Chronic lateness may also result in a reduced grade.
This class will be participatory
and everyone is expected to join in discussions. A portion of each class will be set aside to discuss observations relating
to course materials seen, read or heard during the preceding week. Students are encouraged to collect samples of written material
or tapes of audio or video material for discussion.
A letter grade will be assigned
to each student consistent with CUNY grading policy, upon the successful completion of the course.Grade distribution will be as follows:
Two quizzes 30 %
Two 3-4 page papers20 %
Final Exam30 %
Statement of Academic Integrity
LehmanCollege and CUNY seek to prepare students
for professional roles within their fields. Congruent to the mission of the College, students are held to high standards of
ethical and professional practice.The knowledge of and adherence to standards
of professional ethics and practice is an integral part of professional preparation.Faculty members and students have an obligation to maintain high standards of academic integrity established by the
City University of New York. Full information regarding these standards is available in the LehmanCollege bulletin.
Class Topics (approximate):
2/1Distribution of Syllabus, introductions and discussion of class objectivesAssignment (due 2/8): Read Chapter 1
2/8The US Legal System
Assignment ( due 2/15) Read Chapter 2
2/15The Constitution and The First Amendment(Guest Speaker)
Assignment (due 2/22): Read Chapter 3
Assignment (due 3/1): Read Chapter 4
Chap. 1,2,3 )Defamation & Libel
Assignment (due 3/8) Read Chapters 5
3/8Right to Privacy
Assignment (due 3/15) Read Chapter 6& 7
3/15Access and the Media
Assignment (due 3/22) Read Chapter 8
3/22Creative Property.Paper #1
Assignment;(due 3/29) Read Chapt. 9 & 10
3/29The FCC & Broadcast Licensing,
Assignment (due 4/26) Read Chapter 11
4/12 & 19Spring Recess - No Class
4/26Quiz #2 (on Chapt.4 - 10)Electronic Media & Content
Assignment (due 5/3) Read Chapter 12
5/3Obscenity & Indecency.
5/10Commercial Speech- Paper #2
5/17Last Class, Review & Supreme Court Cases
ISBN 0-534-61794-8Suggested Reading: ISBN
Communications Law - 4 Ed (2004)Cases in Communications
BOB GARFIELD: Last week, the Pentagon released more than 700 photos taken at Dover Air Force
base and other military facilities depicting honor guard ceremonies for soldiers killed in war, taken by official military
photographers. There's nothing terribly shocking in these images - just solemn processions of flag-draped coffins. But for
the public, they were startlingly unfamiliar. The Pentagon bans media from Dover, and it wasn't until University of Delaware
Professor Ralph Begleiter sued that the Pentagon granted his FOIA request for the photos. Begleiter took his cue from journalist
Russ Kick, who last year also won access to Dover pictures through a FOIA request. Begleiter says this latest release of photos
should make it harder for the government to (quote) "hide the human cost of the war from the American people. But it will
be up to the people to keep filing those requests. As we just heard, ACLU lawyers have secured reams of documents through
FOIA, but as Russ Kick told us last year, ordinary citizens can use FOIA just as effectively. It just takes persistence and
RUSS KICK: This is something that, truly, anybody in the country or anybody in the world
can do. All you have to do, really, is send a letter to the FOIA office of the agency that you're interested in, and, and
tell them what you want. You don't even need to be a citizen, actually.
BOB GARFIELD: Do you
believe that FOIA is grossly under-utilized by American media?
RUSS KICK: Oh, definitely.
There's been studies that have been done about who is using the FOIA. And it turns out that the media makes up just a tiny
fraction of all the requests. It was something along the lines of 10 percent.
Do you have any evidence to suggest that government agencies intentionally make the process as cumbersome and unrewarding
as possible to discourage reporters who, after all, are on deadline, from getting involved in the process to begin with?
RUSS KICK: Oh, definitely. If you'll remember the strategy game Othello, the slogan for that is - "A minute
to learn; a lifetime to master." And that's pretty much the way it is [LAUGHTER] with FOIA, because you can learn how to make
a request in a minute, but dealing with the stonewalling, the excessive fees and just sometimes outright lies, that's what
takes a long time to learn how to work with.
BOB GARFIELD: Well, FOIA Master, bestow on us
your, [LAUGHTER] your wisdom.
RUSS KICK: Well, one thing is, under FOIA you have one appeal
when you're denied. Always use it. Because there are these various numbered exemptions having to do with national security
or personal privacy. They have to name specifically at least one of those. If they don't, which sometimes happens, then you've
really got a great case for an appeal. But even if they do name them, you know, you try to think like a lawyer, and figure
out why they're wrong to have used that exemption. Most of the time, I've found the appeals don't work. But it's still important
to try, and another thing is, one of the tactics that the CIA is using, and they're one of the most popular agencies that
get FOIAs, they will automatically send you a letter back saying that you have to agree to pay at least one hundred and fifty
dollars for each request before they'll even start processing. And the reason this is something of a trick is because they're
hoping, of course, that most people will just say well forget it, you know, I can't afford that. The way I get around that
is - when I send in the request in to the CIA, I automatically tell them in the letter that yes, I agree to pay up to one
hundred and fifty dollars for this request, and so far I've never had to pay near that much.
GARFIELD: Okay, so let's say I want to find out who paid for President Bush's flight suit in his stunt where he landed
on the aircraft carrier to declare the mission accomplished in Iraq. I put a letter in the mail to the FOIA administrator
at the Department of Defense and say I'm willing to pay a hundred and fifty dollars for the information. Please send me the
appropriate documentation? That's it?
RUSS KICK: Oh, that's pretty much it. Yeah. The only
thing is, when you write the letter, you have to say, you know, something along the lines of - This is a request under the
Freedom of Information Act. And after that just tell them what you want. It also helps if you tell them whether or not you're
an independent researcher or a member of the media or something like that, just so that they can assess fees. And if you're
a member of the media, it actually - all fees are supposed to be waived. You know, you don't have to tell them anything about
why you want this material, and by law, they're not allowed to ask you that, either.
All right, Russ. Well, thank you very much.
RUSS KICK: Well, thank you.
GARFIELD: Russ Kick is editor and publisher of the MemoryHole.org. [MUSIC]
Up next, efforts to control content on PBS and cable, and how America got left in the dust on the information highway.