Media and Revolution

CMA 209 Media and Revolution

Dr. Elizabeth Atwood

Phone: 301-696-3231; (office) 410-788-4284 (home) e-mail:

Office: 208 Rosenstock

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to explore how the mass media foster, influence and are shaped by political and social revolutions.

Course Objectives: Students will examine various theories of the mass media and evaluate those theories in terms of political and social revolutions from the Protestant Reformation through current uprisings in the Middle East. Students will understand and explain how the mass media interact with power structures within society and how the media are used by various members of society to communicate ideas and instigate change.


Readings will be posted on Blackboard.

Required websites or apps:







Al Jazeera

You also will need to access the Washington Post, New York Times, and other major news websites or papers. These can be accessed for free via the Hood library.

Course Format:

This course will follow a seminar format in which students are expected to be active participants in the course. You each will be assigned to help lead one class discussion. As the discussion leader, you will be responsible for presenting a question pertaining to the topic that will help generate discussion. You also will conduct original research on a media and revolution topic and present your findings to class. Although we will explore revolutions of the past, we also will monitor ongoing social and political revolutions around the world. Students will be expected to keep up with the news and read assignments before coming to class.


All readings are in the Course Documents section of Blackboard. Class work, homework and writing assignments must be submitted to Blackboard for grading. Students also will be expected to check Blackboard regularly for announcements and assignments. It is your responsibility to make sure your assignments have been filed correctly in Blackboard. If you do not see a grade on an assignment a week after it is due, ask me about it. I will not accept work that is emailed or handed to me on paper.

Attendance and classroom courtesy

You are expected to be in class and on time.  However, I recognize that there may be occasions when due to illness, family emergency or other personal reasons, or on occasion of required attendance at athletic or cultural events, students may be unable to attend class. If absences become excessive, you will lose participation points. It is your responsibility to notify me in advance if possible, and to make arrangements to obtain material missed in class. If any personal or health problems occur during the semester, see me about arranging extra help before getting behind on assignments.

I do not permit cell phone use in my class. Turn them off and put them away. You may use iPads or laptops for course assignments (note taking, reading) but if they become a distraction, I reserve the right to prohibit their use.

 Meeting Deadlines

Learning to complete assignments by their due dates is essential not only in college, but in life. For that reason, you will lose a full letter off your grade for every day your assignment is late. For an assignment that is four days, you will earn no higher than an F. Missing assignments will be counted as a 0. Assignments are due before the start of class. The syllabus provides plenty of notice when assignments are due.

Exceptions can be made for documented serious illnesses that require trips to the emergency room or hospitalizations, and notifications from the Dean of Students’ office regarding deaths in a family or other family crises. Athletes who will be missing class because of games are still required to submit assignments on time.



I DO NOT tolerate plagiarism or fabrication of any kind. Instances of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade on the assignment and no chance for a re-do. I check student work through SafeAssign.



Students with physical, psychological, or learning disabilities must be registered with the college’s Disability Services Coordinator. The coordinator will help you prepare a plan for services and will forward authorization for the specified services to class instructors. Please contact me early in the semester to provide the necessary documentation, and to arrange for appropriate accommodations on exams.


Center for Academic Achievement and Retention (CAAR):

The CAAR office is located on the third floor of Rosenstock Hall and provides a wide range of academic supports for all students.  Services range from math and writing tutoring to individualized one-on-one meetings to discuss any barriers that might prevent you from reaching your full academic potential.  If you ever need help, feel free to stop by.  We won’t always have all the answers, but we will definitely work with you to try to help you find the supports that you need.

Disability Services:

The Disability Services office provides academic support for students with disabilities.  Examples of disabilities include, but are not limited to, mobility impairments, blindness/low vision, psychiatric conditions, recurring medical conditions, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and others.  The following are examples of academic accommodations:

  • Extended time on exams
  • Note-taking support
  • Textbooks in alternative formats (electronic, audio, etc.)
  • ASL interpreting services

If you have a documented disability and are interested in finding out more about academic accommodations, please contact Lauren Reis, the Disability Services Coordinator, by e-mail at, by phone at (301)696-3421, or by visiting CAAR.


30 points: research paper & oral presentation

25 points: discussion board responses

15 points: leading class discussion

10 points: midterm exam

5: Storify presentation

10: final exam—take home

5 points: participation


Class Projects


Research Paper and Oral Presentation (30 points). You will research and write a 10-page paper that explores how the news media covered a social or political revolution of the past or is covering a revolution at present. The paper must include a literature review as well as original research (interviews, content analyses, ie). After completing your research, you will meet with me to discuss your paper and you will be allowed the chance make revisions before you present the paper to the class. More details will be provided. The research paper and oral presentation will be graded as follows:

Research question & methodology: 5 points

Literature Review: 10 points

Written findings: 10

Oral presentation: 5 points


Discussion leader (15 points). You will be assigned to lead the discussion of a class topic. To facilitate the discussion you will pose one question to the class at least 48 hours before the topic is discussed. The question should prompt students to critically analyze the reading. Students will answer the question in the Journal in Blackboard before the class in which it is discussed. You will write a two-page paper (double-spaced, 12-point type) that summarizes the readings you present and compares and contrasts them as appropriate. You will be graded as follows:

  • Discussion question: 2
  • Class discussion: 3
  • Summary paper: 10 points


Discussion Board Responses (25 points). Before each lesson, you will be given a question to help you think about the readings and contribute to class discussions. You will write a thoughtful 150- to 200- word response to the question. The response must be written using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, and it must be posted before class on the day it will be discussed.


Presentation in Storify (5 points). You will assemble a report in Storify that looks at a current revolution as revealed through social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook).  More details will be provided.



Week 1:

Aug. 26: Intro to course


Aug. 28: A Free and Powerful Press? Two Views

  • Alstchull, “Introduction,” and Epilogue;
  • Streitmatter: Chapter 17


            Submit preferred discussion topics

Week 2:

Sept. 2: Limits of Objectivity

  • Altschull Chapters 3-4


Class discussion topics assigned


Sept. 4: Media Theories

  • McQuail, Chapter 4


Week 3:

Sept. 9:  Writing the Research Paper

  • Troyka, Chapters 32-34
  • They Say, I Say, Chapter 13


Sept. 11: The power of knowledge

  • Innes, “Media in Ancient Empires”
  • Burke & Ornstein, “Communication and Faith in the Middle Ages”
  • Briggs & Burke, “The Media and the Public Sphere in Early Modern Europe,” 61-82.
  • Standage, T. (2011, December). Social media in the 16th Century: How Luther went viral | The Economist. The Economist. Retrieved from



Week 4:

Sept. 16: The Democratization of Information

  • Graff, “Early Modern Literacies”
  • Briggs & Burke, “The Media and the Public Sphere in Early Modern Europe,” 82-90.
  • Excerpt from Boston Gazette
  • Excerpt from Journal of Occurrences


Sept. 18: Minority Press Agitates for Change

  • Leonard, “Antislavery, Civil Rights and Incendiary Material”
  • Gonzalez & Torres, “To Plead Our Own Cause: The Early Black Press” and “The Progressive Era and the Colored Press”

Week 5:

Sept. 23: The Power of the Image (Editorial Cartoons)

  • Streitmatter, Chapter 4
  • Lamb, “Drawing Power”
  • Katz, “An Historic Look at Political Cartoons”


Due: Research question and methodology


Sept. 25: Power of the Image, (Photography)

  • Keller, “Early Photojournalism”
  • Gervais, “Witness to War: The Uses of Photography in the Illustrated Press, 1855-1904”


Week 6:

Sept. 30: The Power of the Image, Part 3 (Photography)

  • Andén-Papadopoulos, “Abu Ghraib Torture Photographs: News Frames, Visual Culture and the Power of Image”
  • Pfau, etal, “The Effect of Print News Photographs of the Casualties of War”
  • Romic, “The Power of the Picture”


Oct. 2: Radio Days

  • Gonzalez and Torres, “Words with Wings”
  • Stott, “Documenting Media”



Week 7:

Oct. 7: Television and the civil rights movement

  • Bodroghkozy, “The Chosen Instrument of the Revolution?”
  • The Race Beat, Chapter 22


Research Paper Literature Review Due


Oct. 9: Midterm Exam

Week 8:

Oct. 14: No Class. Fall Break


Oct. 16: You Say You Want a Revolution?

  • McMillian, “A Hundred Blooming Papers” in Smoking Typewriters

Week 9:

Oct. 21: Fall of the Soviet Union

  • Shane, “Information Control and the Soviet Crisis”


Oct. 23: Rise of Cable –CNN Effect

  • Gilboa, “Global Television News and Foreign Policy: Debating the CNN Effect”
  • Robinson, “The CNN Effect Revisited”


Week 10:

Oct. 28: The Media’s Role in the Rwanda and Burundi

, Chapters 1, 4


Oct. 30: The Media and Social Change in Senegal

, Chapter 10


Research paper due


Week 11:

            Nov. 4: No class; teacher conferences.


Nov. 6: Research presentations.


Week 12:

Nov.11: Storify—Everyone tells a story?

  • Graber, Chapters 5 & 6


Nov. 13: China Grapples with New Media

  • Gang and Bandurski, “China’s Emerging Public Sphere”


Week 13:

Nov. 18: Arab Spring

  • Graber, “The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media are Shaping World Politics”
  • Kellner, “The North African Uprisings”


Nov. 20: Arab Spring

  • Dahdal, “Al Jazeera, Bab Al Hara, and Social Media in the Resurrection of Arab Nationalism”
  • Neyfakh, L. (2011, March 27). Is this 1848? com. Retrieved from

  • Ali and Fahmy “The Icon of the Egyptian Revolutions: Using Social Media to Topple a Mideast Regime”


Week 14:


Nov. 25:  Arab Spring


  • Ehmer, “Social Media and Cyber Activism: You Tube and Iran’s Election Protests”
  • Werwitzke and Wilke, “Effective or Overrated? Role of Social Media in Iranian Mass Demonstrations of June 2009”


Storify proposal due


Nov. 27: Thanksgiving. No Class.

Week 15:

Dec. 2: Social Media and the Occupy Movement

  • Kellner, “From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Everywhere!”


 Dec. 4: Net Delusion?

  • Morozov, “The Google Doctrine,” and “Making History (More than a Browser Menu)”

Week 16:

Dec. 9: Storify Presentations

Dec. 11: The Next Revolution?

  • Allen, “The Role of Contemporary Media in Political Transitions”
  • Armoudian’s Kill the Messenger, Chapter 13


Week 17:

Final Exam Due


Possible research paper topics:

  • compare coverage of a news event in an alternative newspaper and a mainstream newspaper
  • compare news framing of an issue over time, for example women’s rights, LGBT rights,
  • analyze editorial cartoons in favor or opposed to a political or social change
  • analyze an organization’s use of social media to promote a cause
  • compare a government news releases on a topic to media coverage in newspapers, blogs or TV
  • interview a public relations official in charge of a non-profit organization about media strategies

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