CA450 Seminar: SpecTop in Journalism

for FA 2008

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CA 450 Seminar: SpecTop in Journalism: The Media and the Presidential Election


FA 2008 HO


Lofflin, John



Office Location

Copleu 1 South

Office Hours


Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

Fall 2008

Class Days


Class Time

11:00 - 12:15 PM

Credit Hours



The Road to the White House 2008 by Stephen J. Wayne

The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse

Additional Resources:


             Excerpts: The American Voter Revisited by Michael S. Lewis-Beck, et al, University of Michigan Press 2008; Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering by Mark J. Rozell and Clyde Wilcox, Congressional Quarterly Press, 1999; Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman; “The Agenda-Setting Role of the Mass Media in the Shaping of Public Opinion,” by Maxwell McCombs, ; Mass Media and American Politics by Doris Graber; Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson, (Chicago, University Of Chicago Press, 1980).

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Course Description:
CA450 Seminar: Special Topics in Journalism: Specialized study and practice in various aspects of print journalism. May be repeated for credit when topics are changed. [Topics may include Investigative Reporting, Feature Writing, Editorial and Interpretative Writing, History of Journalism, Advanced Layout and Design.] Prerequisite: Advanced standing or permission of the instructor. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

Engagement with the ideas of the course is the essential prerequisite for higher level learning. The teacher serves as a guide to the construction of meaning, the development of skills and dispositions, the recognition of what constitutes excellence, and the consideration of ethical issues.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Varies according to topic

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. 1. You will accomplish original research in the form of a content analysis of media messages about the 2008 presidential campaign
  2. 2. You will follow the inner workings of the campaign from the perspectives of political science and media studies.
  3. 3. You will critique both the electoral process and the journalistic response including print and broadcast
  4. 4. The nature of the symbolic environment will become transparent for you; you will use this understanding to analyze presidential elections in the modern era. You will be dedicated to improving that environment.
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:


             Communication Arts students majoring in journalism or photojournalism should save a copy of the content analysis and a copy of the cumulative final paper in the portfolio.

·         We will write a comprehensive paper composed of reaction, thought, and original research on a topic to be announced in November. The final paper will be due Dec. 1. We will also prepare a paper on The Road to the White House 2008, due before mid-term. We will accomplish a content analysis of media coverage and a write-up of the results due around Thanksgiving. All three projects will be weighted equally and graded by both instructors. This work will total 300 points

·         The instructors will assign brief 10-point analysis papers (less than one typed page) over the reading for about 10 sessions across the semester. The papers will total 100 points and cannot be made up. In all, the course work will total 400 points.

·         Quality of writing will be a factor in all evaluations.

There will be 400 points and the evaluation will be on the 90/80/70/60/% basis.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Staying abreast of changes in the agenda is your responsibility. If you are absent when these changes are announced, it will be up to you to find out and to catch up.

             The instructors will provide handout materials only once. If you are absent when these materials are circulated, it will be your responsibility to obtain them from other students.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

AGENDA: Changes in this agenda will occur and be announced in class...

August 18 -- Introduction to course ASSIGNMENT: The Road to the White House 2008, Stephen J. Wayne, Thomson Wadsworth, 2008, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 (See corresponding discussion weeks)

August 22 – 25 -- Introduction to the content study, content analysis explained, groups created, material assigned and distributed, content coders trained

August 29 -- Discussion: Wayne: Part 1“The Electoral Arena”, pp. 1 – 114.

Ch. 1 Presidential Selection: A Historical Overview

Ch. 2 Campaign Finance

Ch. 3 The Political Environment

Sept. 1 -- Discussion: Wayne: Part5 2 “The Nomination”, pp. 115-212.

Ch. 4 Party Rules and Their Impact: The Legal Environment

Ch. 5 Campaigning for the Nomination

Ch. 6 Spring Interregnum: Consolidating Victory and Posturing for the Election

Sept. 8 -- Discussion: Wayne: Part 3 “The Presidential Campaign”, pp. 213-298.

Ch. 7 Organization, Strategy and Tactics

Ch. 8 Mediated Politics – media effects and agenda setting

Sept. 15 -- Discussion: Wayne: Part 4 “The Election”, pp 299-390.

Ch. 9 Understanding Presidential Elections

Ch. 10 Reforming the Electoral System

Sept. 22 – Oct. 3 -- In class completion of content analysis

Oct. 6- 10 – Discussion: Symbolic politics / media effects and agenda setting – ASSIGNMENT: Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox, 1999, Congressional Quarterly Press – Chapter 2: Interest Groups and Political Parties, pg. 29- 67.

Oct. 20 – 24 – Discussion: Interest group politics and party platforms – concrete and symbolic action – ASSIGNMENT: The American Voter Revisited, Michael S. Lewis-Beck, et al, excerpts from Section II – Political Attitudes and the Vote, Perceptions of the Parties and Candidates, Partisan Choice, and Voting Turnout, pgs. 31-110, University of Michigan Press, 2008.

Oct. 17 – 31 – Discussion: Voting behavior and party politics – The American Voter Revisited

Nov. 3 -- No class. Class meets Nov. 4, 6 p.m. Election watch party, place TBA

Nov. 7-- Content paper due: Discussion of election results and paper ASSIGNMENT: Boys on the Bus, Timothy Crouse, The Boys on the Bus, Chapter 1, On the Bus, pp. 3-26

Nov. 10 – Discussion: Pack Journalism (and the 24 hour news cycle) ASSIGNMENT: Crouse, Chapter 2, Coming to Power, pp. 27-46

Nov. 14 – Discussion: A somewhat irreverent view of the history of presidential reporting, ASSIGNMENT: Crouse, Chapter 3, The Muskie Three and Other Campaign Reporters, pp. 47-67

Nov. 17 – Discussion: Back to the primaries: A flawed system revealed, ASSIGNMENT: Crouse, Chapter 7, Television, pp. 139-178 / Postman reading, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman – Final paper assigned

Nov. 21 -- 24 – Discussion: The evolving role of television in presidential elections, Final paper assigned

Dec. 1 – 5 - Discussion: Three decades after campaign reform: Can the system be fixed? Comprehensive final paper due Dec. 1

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90
It is not possible to do well in this course without regular attendance. Much of the material for papers will only be discussed in class. Interaction of students with the material in class is vital to learning and performance. The instructors will keep attendance. The attendance policy of the college requires students who miss more than two weeks, six consecutive sessions, to be dropped. The instructor will adhere to that policy.
The instructors may chose to lower a student's overall grade if the student misses more than six sessions during the semester.
Success of the content analysis project will depend heavily on the attendance and faithful work of each student in the class. Please do not miss any sessions during the period reserved for work on the project.
The instructors will probably make changes in the agenda and the evaluation materials in this class. The progress of the class in general and our interaction with events in the presidential election may speed up or slow down our journey through the material. We are far more interested in what you understand than in what we “cover.”

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:8/11/2008 10:49:40 PM