Spring 2006
Critical Analysis of Media


This course looks at historical and contemporary issues in media form, design and economic structure. The goal is to outline how media forms both influence and are influenced by design, political and economic factors that are often erroneously treated as external.

This course also has an applied component, in which students will demonstrate their knowledge through creating a wiki concerning the essential form and structure of various media types and create their own constructive culture jamming/social influence campaigns on topics of their own interest.

Prerequisite: CCT 210


Prof. Michael Jones
Office: S319
Phone: (905) 845-9430 x 5555
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays before class (5-6pm, Sheridan S319)
Email Policy: I check email quite regularly and usually respond to all reasonable requests within 24 hours. However, during occasional weekends in the spring semester, I may be out of contact; these particular times will be noted in advance in class.

David Gelb

Main Text

McChesney, R.W. & Scott, B. (Eds.) (2004). Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism, New Press: New York.

Online readings as noted.


Lecture/Lab: Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6:00-9:00pm , Sheridan J318

Unless otherwise noted, the first half of the evening will focus on course material in the form of instructor-led seminar discussion. It is expected that students will arrive prepared to discuss relevant course material for the class, including but not limited to the assigned readings for the class.

The second half will be reserved for individual and/or group work on course assignments, especially as the spring semester draws to a close and project deadlines become more pressing concerns. We will encourage dialogue and provide one-on-one assistance on any conceptual or technical questions that are relevant to your projects as required.

Assignment Structure

1. Film Analysis (Network) – Class 5 (May 30th) (15%)

In Class 2, we will be watching the 1976 film Network, a now classic satirical work directly touching on issues of media form and economic structure as applied to 1970s American television news programming.

While clearly grounded in this historical period, many core lessons from the film are arguably as or more salient thirty years after its release.

Working individually, students are asked to interpret the core lessons of the film and apply these lessons to contemporary trends and events in contemporary television news.

2. Wiki – Form and Structure of Media – (Final date for edits: June 15th – ongoing participation/content building required) (30%) (Now extended to June 23th, midnight)

This course will be using Wikispaces to foster collaborative investigation on issues of relevance in this course.

The main deliverable for the course Wikispace (, will be the analysis of essential genre and form elements of various media forms.

This assignment contains three parts:

a) Content (15%) - Students are encouraged to pick one or two media forms of interest and develop these topical areas fully. A list of potential choices will be built in the first two weeks of the course, and further details on content requirements will be released in the second week of the course. Effective content will provide a robust, factual and complete analysis of the design of a particular media form, including exemplars.
b) Community building and maintenance (10%) – Wikis depend on continual effort by community writers to create a sustainable and active intellectual space. Our class Wiki is no exception, and this effort will be rewarded accordingly. The Wiki is your space – 10% of your final mark will be allocated to your efforts to making this space a constructive learning experience.
c) Analysis and Reflection (5%) - In a short (1-2p.) paper, outline what contributions you have made to the course Wiki and share your reflections, concerns and suggestions for future Wiki users in CCIT.

3. Culture Jamming/Social Influence Project– Class 11 (June 20th) (30%)

In groups of 2-3, students will work on a particular culture jamming and/or social influence project of their own design and on a topic of their own choosing. Effective culture jamming projects will leverage essential media form and design principles to shine a critical or ironic light on a particular issue of interest. Social influence campaigns, while similar, aim to spur action and awareness of a particular issue, not simply offer detached ironic commentary.

5% of the final grade will be reserved for the group’s formation and proposal, due in Class 6 (June 6th). 5% will be reserved for presentation of the group’s final project in Class 11 (June 20th). 20% will be reserved for the quality and effectiveness of the work created. Specific criteria will be discussed and outlined while groups are formed in the first half of the course.

4. Final Test – Class 12 (June 22nd) (25%)

There will be one term test in this course, held during the last class (June 22nd). This test will cover all assigned readings and seminar material, and will privilege application of course concepts vs. simple regurgitation of facts, dates, or authors. Specific content covered and question structures will be discussed later in the semester as part of exam review.

Important Policy Notes

Students should familiarize themselves with Senate Policy described in the UTMCalendar:

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to be informed about plagiarism and familiar with the Faculty Rules and Regulations, Code of Behavior on Academic Matters and Code of Student Conduct (see UTM 2005-2006 Calendar), which state your rights, your duties and provide all the details on grading regulations.

Academic honesty is a serious matter and will be treated accordingly. The UTM calendar summarizes UTM policy on p. 25. Violations of academic honesty include:

• Using unauthorized aids on a test (e.g., “cheat sheets”)
• Looking at someone else’s answers on a test
• Plagiarism (representing or submitting someone else’s words or work as your own)
• Making up sources or facts for an essay or report
• Falsifying official documents or grades
• Submitting the same essay or report in more than one course without permission
• Impersonating another person at an exam or test, or having someone impersonate you

How Not to Plagiarize by Margaret Procter is an excellent primer on what consistitues plagiarism and how to avoid it. You are responsible for creating material that conforms to this level of citation, and thus are strongly encouraged to read it. Ignorance of these basic fundamentals is no excuse.

Access to Learning

The University accommodates students with disabilities who have registered with the AccessAbility Resource Centre and Sheridan College’s Disability Services centre. Please let me know in advance, preferably in the first week of class, if you will require any accommodation on these grounds. (2006-07 UTM Calendar Section 6.2 AccessAbility Resource Centre)."

Professional Etiquette

This course encourages lively constructive debate around topics that can be of a sensitive and controversial manner. Students are expected to treat their colleagues in a respectful manner in all class, lab and online discussions. We will discuss particulars of what this means in the first class and create a mutually binding code of ethics and etiquette. If you feel that someone is acting in violation of these principles, you are encouraged to first attempt to resolve the issue directly. Should this not be successful and/or you feel that you cannot faithfully do so, bring your concerns to Prof. Jones at the soonest possible opportunity.

Due Dates and Lateness

For both individual and group assignments, you must submit assignments on the specified due dates. Make sure you are aware of due dates.

Computer glitches are not valid excuses for a late assignment – make sure you back up your work and save it to multiple locations (e.g., USB keychain drives, floppy disks, email copies to yourself and others, etc.)

You may submit late work the following day before 4 p.m., but the assignment will receive a 20% late penalty in fairness to those who have completed their work on time.

Work submitted later than the following day with no explanation will not be accepted unless accompanied by a valid University of Toronto Medical Certificate The certificate is available at:

The student must provide official medical evidence proving that events beyond his/her control prevented the submission of the assignment on the given due date. There is no penalty, and the late work is accepted until the length of time the evidence warrants. Please contact Prof. Jones at the earliest opportunity should you find yourself in this situation.

Students who miss a term test will be assigned a mark of zero for that test unless they can document a compelling reason for missing it. Students in that position must submit a written request within one week of the missed test to Prof. Jones with appropriate medical documentation. If the request is accepted, a different make-up will be scheduled or the weighting of other term work will be increased by the amount of the missed test.

Class Schedule

Readings marked M&S are from the McChesney and Scott reader; others are

Class 1 – May 16 - Introduction to course

Critical analysis of media through the lens of essential form and economic structure; enlisting in course Wikispace

Class 2 – May 18 - Movie Night - Network (1976)

Analysis of film assignment due May 30th (Class 5)

Class 3 – May 23 - Media and Essential Form (Theoretical Analysis)

• Manovich, L. (2001), New Media from Borges to HTML (
• Mills, C.W. (1956/2004), The Mass Society, (M&S, 343-364)

Class 4 – May 25 - Media and Essential Form (Applied)

• Abbott, E. (1884). Flatland (
• Breed W. (1955/2004), Social Control in the Newsroom: A Functional Analysis (M&S, 229-244)
• Hempell, A. (1996). The Resonating Interval: Exploring the Process of the Tetrad (

Class 5 – May 30 (Assignment #1: Film Analysis Due) -Culture Jamming and Social Influence

• Heath, J. & Potter A. (2002) The Rebel Sell. This Magazine, November
• Examples of Culture Jamming in Practice

Class 6 – June 1 - Media Ownership and Economic Control

• McChesney, R.W. (2000/2004), US Media at the Dawn of the 21st Century, (M&S, 60-76)
• McCloud, S. (2001). Coins of the Realm (I Can’t Stop Thinking #5, 6)
• Steinem, G. (1983/2004), Sex, Lies & Advertising (M&S, 160-176)

Class 7 – June 6th – (Group Proposals for Culture Jamming/Social Influence Due) Propaganda, Truth and Objectivity

• Cunningham, B. (2003/2004), Rethinking Objectivity (M&S, 287-300)
• Hertsgaard, M. (1988/2004), A Palace Court Press (M&S, 412-429)
• Jensen R. (2003/2004), The Military’s Media (M&S, 430-435)
• Jon Stewart on Crossfire (2004)

Class 8 – June 8th - Issues in Media Form and Structure: Identity and Privacy

• Agre, P. (2001) Your face is not a barcode: Arguments against automatic face recognition in public places.
• McCorduck, P. (1996). Sex, Lies and Avatars, Wired Magazine, April

Class 9 – June 13rd - Future Directions – Web 2.0

• Trippi, J. (2003). The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Chapter 1 (
• Balter, D. (2004). The Word on Word of Mouth.
• Newmark, C. (2005). Why Craigslist Works, by Craig.

Class 10 – June 15th - Future Directions – Rise of the Conceptual Age?

• Pink, D. (2005) Revenge of the Right Brain. Wired Magazine, February (
• McLeod, H. (2004). How To Be Creative (

Class 11 – June 20th - Culture Jamming Projects Due – Presentations

Class 12 – June 22nd - Final Test (25%)