MCOM 3160 Spring 2016
Tuesdays+Thursdays 12:00-1:50 pm TR
Shwayder Art Building 118
Professor: Adrienne Russell
Office Hours: by appointment
Office: Sturm Hall 212

Over the past 2 decades a transformation has taken place in journalism due to the widespread proliferation of digital and mobile technologies. Rather than eroding the quality of news and, thus, the quality of public culture, these new journalism tools, practices, and products have the potential to improve the quality of journalism by reviving some of the old values of journalism that were overshadowed in the era of commercial media like dialogue and pluralism, and strengthening existing values such as holding power elites accountable. This course traces this transformation from mass-mediated journalism to networked journalism, with emphasis on experiments in new-style news and the changing relationship between journalists and their publics.

The objectives of this course are two-fold: 1) to become familiar with the various cultural, economic, and political forces that help shape networked journalism; 2) develop analytical and theoretical tools to examine a specific journalism outlets, issue, topic, or phenomenon. The aim of this course is not simply to accumulate facts, but to develop analytical and theoretical tools to examine journalism products and practices. We will use two methods in our research. The first centers on our own observations. Students are encouraged to bring examples to class that relate to the issues and ideas being covered. The second method is based on close reading of the assigned texts. Students are expected to have read the assigned chapters and articles before the class period for which they are scheduled to be discussed.

Classes will combine lectures and discussion. Please remember that discussion is a way of helping you to see different sides of issues and to evaluate different arguments. It is essential in the development of your thinking that you participate in discussions and that you work to express your thoughts effectively.


Networked: A contemporary history of news in transition by Adrienne Russell


You will receive an invitation via email to join our course blog. Please follow the directions in the email. You will find weekly assignments and other course communication there. I will also occasionally ask you to post assignments or comments. 

Topic Panels

For many of the class sessions throughout the quarter we will organize our discussions around panels in which student panelists will give five-minute presentations on something related to the topic of the day. After each panelist presents, the discussion will open up to the rest of the class to ask questions, add comments, or offer critiques. Each student will present on 2 panel over the course of the quarter. Here is what is expected:

  • Your job is to be an engaging panel that presents information and examples that add to our exploration of the theme at hand. You should check in with your co-panelists to be sure that you are not focusing on the same material or topics. Feel free to collaborate and share resources.
  • You must prepare by reading additional information on the topic and thinking of an angle, example, or case that would best add depth to our discussion of the topic. For example if we are talking about changes to personal life you might focus on online dating, if we are talking about copyright laws in the era of digital culture you might talk about crack downs on remix musicians in general or a particular artist.
  • By midnight the night before your scheduled panel you must post your presentation to the class Blog. There are 4 things that you should be sure to include: 1) A description of your key points; 2) A list of at least 2 references from scholarly or insightful popular press sources besides the required reading that you used to inform your presentation.  Acceptable references include books, journal articles or scholarly blogs, Ted talks, articles from other quality outlets such as Vice, Tech Crunch, Salon, Wired, and many more. If in doubt, ask me. See the Recommended Outlets of Info and Analysis section below; 3) A link to one slide or visual you want to use during your in-class presentation.  This slide should not contain video or extensive text. No reading off slides. Never ever; 4) a question or 2 that you would like to pose to class about the topic to spur discussion.
  • You must be prepared. If you are not, do not try to wing it. That will waste all of our time and be embarrassing for you.
  • Feel free to bring in notes but be sure not to read your presentation.

Everyone else:
  • Your job is to be an engaged audience and then to jump into the discussion once the panel presentations have concluded. Think of question and comments for panelists and the class in general.
  • Please have your computers closed and do not talk, leave the room, or do other distracting things while your classmates are on the spot.

Recommended outlets and people to follow on twitter. This is just suggested places to start!
You can find more here


There will be 2 essay exams that cover the reading and in-class discussion and lectures.

Final Story or Paper

For your final assignment you may either write a paper or create a story on some element of networked journalism. The guidelines for each are below. 


Everyone must turn in a prospectus, which will serve as an outline for your research paper or article. It should be 1-2 single-spaced pages and include:
1) a clear statement of your research question story focus;
2) a description of specifically what you are going to look at;
3) an outline of the theoretical and empirical literature that will inform your work;
4) a preliminary bibliography.


Choose networked journalism product, organization, idea, trend, or treatment of a particular story and evaluate it by comparing it to traditional news media products and norms. Your paper should be between 4-5 single-spaced pages and should use Chicago style of bibliographic reference. All papers must build on literature in the field and include a literature review.


Chose a newsworthy issue, outlet, trend, idea related to journalism and create a story about it. The story should be posted online and include links and/or audio and video and images. The length of stories will vary (if you shoot a video the text portion might be shorter, for example) but the story should be roughly 4-5 single spaced pages (roughly 2000 words) and must be informed by interviews with at least 3 sources.


Class Participation (including attendance, contribution to discussions, panels)                                                                                                  300 points
Exams                                                                                                  200 points
Final story or paper                                                                              200 points
Paper prospectus                                                                                   50 points
Final presentation                                                                                 50 points

Personal Standards 

Please note that 300 out of 800 possible points in this class have to do with you showing up and engaging with the class material. If you do not come to class or you come unprepared you will not do well in this class.

Please keep your phones and computers in your bags except for the occasions when I ask you to bring them out to look something up or work on an assignment. 

Please don’t ask me questions that can be answered by looking at the syllabus or class schedule. And please listen in class so I don’t have to repeat things a million times. That’s boring for everyone. If you are having trouble understanding expectations, assignments or course material, please speak up. It’s important to me not to leave anybody behind.

Please don’t make excuses about why you cannot attend or prepare for class. If you truly have a crisis that is a different story and your wellbeing comes first.

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