COM 880 Projects

The written projects for this course will require you to follow the media's coverage of one focused topic in the news which relates to a specific interest within your major field of study. For example, if you are a communication major with a special interest in health care issues, you might focus on the recent grass roots efforts to ban smoking in all public spaces. Use your topic as a criterion for making choices in executing the projects in this course. For example, your profile in project 1 should be of a watchdog that has monitored the coverage of your topic and your editorial in project 2 must be addressed to a periodical or newspaper that has covered the topic.


For each project submit to me via e-mail two weeks in advance of the project due date a proposal outlining specifically how you will respond to the guidelines of the project. This proposal should be at least 200 words and answer the following questions: How do your choices relate to your interest? What sociopolitical issues are at stake? What ethical issues in communication arise? Be prepared to speak about your proposal in class.


Project 1:Profile of a Watchdog (1000 - 1500 words)

The purpose of this project is to familiarize yourself with organizations who are monitoring the media for questionable ethical conduct.

Visit several of the web sites for media watchdogs, and select one that seems to follow issues that are relevant to your special interest. Follow the content of this site for a week or so for the sake of answering these questions:

When you have a firm sense of the answers to these questions, write a descriptive profile of the watchdog. Be sure to illustrate all of your observations with specific details.


Project 2:Case Study (1500 - 2000 words)

The purpose of this project is to examine an extended sampling of public communication and to make and defend some judgment about the ethical conduct behind it. You will collect a dozen or so articles from three or four different publishers about your topic, and examine their coverage. The idea is to compare and contrast the ways several media have handled a given news item. Begin by searching Hagerty Library's Newspaper Databases and Directories for substantial news reports (i.e., not a news brief or summary) of some incident relevant to your discipline that raises an ethical question about communication. Find a dozen or so articles from three or four different publishers about your topic, and examine their coverage. As you read your articles try to get a sense of the answers to the following questions:

Write a case study that synthesizes the answers to these questions. Your case study should be roughly divided into two sections: (1) a description of the case that lays out in detail the pragmatic dimensions and the abstract issues of the case and (2) a critical judgment of ethical behavior, which is based on specific ethical constructs of one of the philosophers we've discussed in this course.