Mass Communications Minor Requirements

2016 - 2017 Catalog

Mass Communications minor

A minor in mass communications requires at least six regular three- or four-credit JOUR courses. Minors will also be asked to write a short paper and attend a group assessment conversation during winter term of their senior year. This is not a minor in journalism. It offers liberal-arts breadth in mass media as a discipline and thorough exposure to the practice or craft but not professional preparation for a career. A student may not complete both a major and a minor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. In meeting the requirements of this discipline-based minor, a student may not use more than nine credits that are also used to meet the requirements of another major or minor.

1. JOUR 101
2. Professional Values: One course chosen from JOUR 242, 301, 344, and 345
3. Media Theory/History: One course chosen from JOUR 221, 231, 296, 318, 319, 325, 332, and 338
4. Media Practice: One course chosen from JOUR 201, 273, 280, 351, 357, 365, 371, 372, and 395
5. Two additional courses in journalism and mass communications
6. Capstone paper and group assessment

  1. Required course
    • JOUR 101 - Introduction to Mass Communications

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall, Winter

      This course serves as a gateway for both majors and non-majors to examine the role that the mass media play in society. The course examines the pervasiveness of mass media in our lives, and the history and roles of different media and their societal functions, processes, and effects. Students learn to tell the difference between fact and opinion and examine the links among theory, research and professional experience, while analyzing the ethics, methods, and motivations of the media and the expectations of their audiences. We discuss how media cover diversity issues and evaluate the policies and freedoms that guide and shape the mass media and the news media in the United States. Students complete the course as better informed consumers and interpreters of mass media and their messages.


  2. Professional Values
  3. Take one course chosen from:

    • JOUR 242 - Media Ownership and Control

      FDR: SS5
      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      This course explores the relationship between what the media do and how they are owned and run. It examines the influence of market pressures and state regulation, and asks how commercial objectives affect the media's ability to meet their traditional responsibilities within a democratic society, as a forum for discourse, an organ of accountability and a means by which popular culture is sustained. Although the chief focus is on news media, the course also looks at the entertainment industries and the Internet as increasingly integrated parts of a consolidated media system and as interpreters of social and political realities.


    • JOUR 301 - Law and Communications

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall, Winter

      An examination of the development of First Amendment jurisprudence, the law of defamation, privacy, access, free press-fair trial, journalists' privilege, obscenity and pornography. The case study approach is used, but the emphasis is on the principles that underlie the landmark cases. This course can serve as an introduction to and preparation for further studies in communications law and/or the legal system in general.


    • JOUR 344 - Ethics of Journalism

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      A study of the moral issues arising from the practice of modern journalism and communications. Includes examination of philosophical and theoretical foundations of ethics, the place and role of journalism in the larger society, and moral choices in the newsroom. Topics include: First Amendment freedoms, privacy, confidentiality of sources, conflicts of interest, cooperation with law enforcement, free press/fair trial, photojournalism, and issues of accountability.


    • JOUR 345 - Media Ethics

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      This course enables students to explore ethical challenges that arise within the various communication practices of contemporary media: journalism, public relations, advertising, documentary film, blogging and fictional programming. The course offers a grounding in moral reasoning and an understanding of professional ethics as an evolving response to changing social and industrial conditions in the media industries.


  4. Media Theory/History
  5. Take one course chosen from:

    • JOUR 221 - Communication in Global Perspectives

      Credits: 4
      Planned Offering: Spring in alternate years

      This course examines how the marketplace of ideas created by the Web impacts, impedes, and affects our communication and discernment abilities by looking at the laws that empower, encourage, and inhibit these abilities on the Web.


    • JOUR 231 - Communication Theory

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      A critical overview of leading theoretical traditions in communication studies. Examination of the concepts of general and thematic theories in use, describing the similarities and differences among the concepts and applying them in practical situations. Some attention is paid to epistemological foundations, the structure of communication theory as a field, and examining the relationship between communication theory and sociocultural practice.


    • JOUR 296 - Topics in News Media History

      Credits: 3 in fall, winter; 4 in spring
      Planned Offering: Offered when interest is expressed and departmental resources permit

      This course uses a variety of research methods to explore a particular era or focus in the history of the American press. Past topics, likely to be offered again on a rotating basis, have been on civil rights coverage in the South since 1945 and on early American newspapers as represented by the 18th- and 19th-century newspapers in W&L's Farrar Collection. Open to non-majors.


    • JOUR 318 - The Literature of Journalism

      FDR: HL
      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter 2017 and alternate years

      A study of the seminal writings in American journalism, focusing on their literary styles, their influence in the development of American journalism, and their impact on U.S. history.


    • JOUR 319 - Mass Media and Society

      Credits: 3

      A review of the current research into and theories of how people use the mass media, emphasizing the impact of the mass media on public knowledge, attitudes, and discourse. Emphasis is placed on the relationship of mass media to other cultural institutions.


    • JOUR 325 - Crisis Communications

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      A case-study approach to current methods of forecasting problems and responding effectively to crises and consequences in the public and private sectors. Topics include identifying and communicating effectively with stakeholders during crises, effective media-relations strategies during emergencies, building an effective crisis-response plan, regaining public credibility following a crisis, and avoiding public relations mistakes during litigation.


    • JOUR 332 - Research Methods in Mass Communication

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      This course introduces students to the systematic study of communication, including quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in both theory-building and applied contexts. Students examine the research process, conceptualization, design, measurement, and analysis. Modes of inquiry studied include survey research, content analysis, experimental research, focus groups, depth interviewing, ethnography, and historical research. The class also engages students in a research project that may serve a local nonprofit agency.


    • JOUR 338 - The Documentary

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      A critical study of the documentary in film and television, with analysis of prominent directors and genres.


  6. Media Practice
  7. Take one course chosen from:

    • JOUR 201 - Introduction to Reporting

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall, Winter

      The principles and techniques of information gathering and news writing, with emphasis on fulfilling the role of the news media in a democratic society. Extensive laboratory work preparing assignments for print, electronic and online media, stressing accuracy, clarity and the appropriate use of the different media.


    • JOUR 273 - Principles of Public Relations

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      This class focuses on understanding what public relations is and what those who practice public relations do. Students examine the origins of public relations, the nature and role of public relations, the major influences that affect organizational behavior, the ethics of public relations, and the professional development of public-relations professionals. Emphasis is placed on the planning, writing, and management functions, working with media and developing effective public-relations strategies.


    • JOUR 280 - Covering Courts and the Law

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      Courthouses make the best beats by providing a window on what is important to the American people. This course introduces students to the U.S. court system, its players, language and impact on the public at large. Students learn how to identify newsworthy legal stories, read court documents, and make sense of them in order to write clear, compelling, fair and accurate news stories for mass audiences.


    • JOUR 351 - Editing for Print and Online Media

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Offered when interest is expressed and departmental resources permit

      The principles and techniques of editing copy and producing publications for the print media and the World Wide Web, with emphasis on clarity of thought, legal and moral responsibilities, and effective communication. Extensive laboratory work. Attention is given to the latest computer-based production and editing applications, as students participate in producing prototype newspaper pages, the Rockbridge Report cablecast and website.


    • JOUR 357 - Magazine Feature Writing

      Credits: 3

      The principles and techniques of developing and polishing long-form journalistic articles for print media. Extensive writing and reporting are required.


    • JOUR 365 - The Broadcast News Magazine

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      The principles and techniques involved in developing and creating enterprising longer-form journalistic work for a converged environment, principally television and the World Wide Web. Students research, write, and produce news and feature packages similar to those of network television news magazines for broadcast on the local cable-access channel.


    • JOUR 371 - Reporting on Business

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall

      Reporting and writing techniques used by journalists who cover the world of business, focusing especially on companies and their employees and customers. Students develop competence in framing, researching, and writing articles in these areas. A part of the business journalism sequence; also appropriate as an elective for other journalism majors and for business majors.


    • JOUR 372 - Reporting on the Economy

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Winter

      Reporting and writing techniques used by journalists who cover the world of economics and business, focusing especially on the economy and financial markets. Students develop competence in framing, researching, and writing articles in these areas. A part of the business journalism sequence; also appropriate as an elective for other journalism majors and for business and economics majors.


    • JOUR 395 - Specialty Reporting

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Offered in fall or winter when departmental resources permit

      An advanced reporting course in which students develop expertise in a particular area of public significance. Topics rotate as faculty resources allow, and are likely to include education, politics, environment, religion, or education. Through reporting and writing, students learn about key institutions, terms, and sources related to the particular field. They learn how to identify newsworthy stories and write clear, compelling, fair, and accurate news stories for mass audiences. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different. Appropriate for non-majors.

      Winter 2017, JOUR 395: Specialty Reporting: The Environment (3). Prerequisite: Journalism 201 and junior standing, or instructor consent. Non-majors welcome with instructor consent. For journalism majors, this course fulfills the "specialty reporting" requirement. For mass communications minors, it fulfills the "media practice" requirement. Is climate change real? Are our water and food sources safe? Is wind energy preferable to coal? These are among the topics we explore in this advanced reporting course. Students learn about key institutions, issues, and sources related to the environment, and learn how to identify newsworthy topics and write clear, compelling, fair and accurate stories for the web, television and print publications.


  8. Two additional courses in journalism and mass communication
  9. Capstone paper and group assessment