CA 450/PO 350
Media and Presidential Elections
Wed. 1:50 – 4:40 MC 23
Professors Ron Brecke and John Lofflin
Office Hours: Professor Brecke: M, 10 – 11, T 10:00
– 11:30; W, 12 – 1; R 10 – 11:30; F, 10 - 11 (or by appointment). Lofflin: T,
2:15-4:30; W, 11 – 1:50; F, 11 – noon
Mission Statement: The mission of Park
University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to
academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically,
communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global
Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader
in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global
This course will be both descriptive and
normative, explaining and evaluating the relationship between the politicians,
the electoral process, and the American press as the 2004 presidential election
As a cross-disciplinary endeavor, this course
seeks to examine that relationship from two perspectives: 1) We will look at the
content of the press and speculate on the effect of that content. 2) We will
examine and evaluate the political system and the political players. We will
explicate the political process at work in presidential elections, identify
strategies employed by contemporary candidates and consider the effects of those
strategies. We will raise questions about the constitutional role of the press
in elections. Finally, we will ask whether journalists are fulfilling their role
by evaluating the work the press does in covering campaigns, particularly
presidential campaigns and especially this presidential campaign.
We intend to hold both the press and the
A key element of our method will be to study
these entities and players in “real time.” We have the rare opportunity in the
fall of 2004 to bring the expertise and energy of both the teachers and the
students together to study a presidential election as it happens. The questions
are open-ended and the answers may not yet be known.
Professors Brecke and Lofflin will share each session, each
concentrating on his particular expertise. The course will include direct
instruction and original research.
The research project will provide much of the material for
the course. Students will be analyzing newspapers, magazines, television and
radio in real time.
WHAT YOU WILL GET OUT OF THIS COURSE:
q You will
describe the nature of a presidential election – the political, institutional
and symbolic elements -- and you will apply that understanding to other kinds of
q You will discuss
the nature of citizenship in democracy
q You will use the
vocabulary of presidential politics and media studies
q You will discuss
the constitutional nature of the role of the press in democracy.
q You will
accomplish original research, mastering the research technique, doing the work
and analyzing the results.
q You will utilize
other research on the effects of the press in society to analyze the
presidential election of 2004
q You will
describe, analyze and critique the role of the press and the actions of the
political players in the presidential election of 2004.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES
1. Attend classes regularly. EACH unexcused absence will
lower your cumulative grade by two percent (two points on a 100 point scale).
There are no excused absences. You may regain one point for your cumulative
grade by handing in a typed summary of the reading for the day(s) you miss.
These summaries are due one week after the class is missed. They will not be
accepted for credit after that time.
2. Be prepared for class. This means that you have read
the assignment and are prepared to discuss it. This course is a combination of
lecture and discussion and you are expected to take part in the discussions.
3. You are expected to keep abreast of current events.
4. Course grades are determined on the following bases:
Final paper 100 points
Weekly assignments 100 points
Personal project 100 points
5. Any student with special needs or a disability in the
classroom environment should come and see us immediately after the first class.
6. If you have problems or questions come and see us or
7. Portable telephones and pagers are not allowed in class
except for security or emergency medical personnel.
8. No assignments will be accepted via email.
9. Required textbooks: Jackson and Crotty: The Politics of
Final Paper: A paper will pull together all
the elements of course describing and analyzing the presidential election of
2004. The paper will include original research accomplished during the semester,
the ideas discussed in class, the common text and a series of journal articles
containing the most recent professional research in the field. You will be asked
to do higher level work on this paper, drawing conclusions about what strategies
the campaigners used and why they used such strategies. You will be asked to
describe and analyze the work of the press and the role media coverage plays in
such strategies. You will also analyze the questions: Do the media prepare
citizens to participate in the election? Have the media enabled citizens to
Evaluation: The paper will be due just
after election day. It will be annotated by the instructors, returned to
students and rewritten, due on a specific date at the close of the semester.
Before starting, students will receive a precise assignment for the paper
describing all necessary elements thoroughly. You will know exactly what you are
asked to do in this paper. The paper will be worth 100 points.
Weekly Assignments: We will accomplish
original research, a content analysis of press coverage of the campaign
beginning on Labor Day and pushing through election day. Every member of the
class will be responsible for accomplishing the work of the content analysis
every week. We will hold you accountable for this because missed work will
severely limit the overall validity of our project. In other words, we will be
counting on you to do your part to the best of your ability. The results of the
original research we accomplish in the content analysis will be available for
each student to use as the basis of their final paper.
Evaluation: We will have 10 weeks to
create the content analysis. A student will receive 10 points for each complete
Personal project: Each student will choose
one of two options for a personal project. 1) Read, critique and teach a journal
article or book chapter to the class (20 minutes); 2) Write an election story
demonstrating effective journalism and responsible reporting. (1,000 words) The
personal project will be worth 100 points
The projects will be due
throughout the semester. We will determine a schedule randomly during the third
Participation: Students are expected to
participate on a regular basis. To that end, a random method for calling on
students will be instituted. A record will be kept of participation and at the
end of the course, these records will be used to determine the outcome of
“fence-sitter” situations where a student is very close to a higher or lower
In addition, students may expect
an infrequent five minute quiz at the beginning of class to help focus
discussion and provide more evidence for this "fence-sitter" grade.