Journalism & Media Studies

MEL Fake News Graphic

04:567:201:02 | MEDIA ETHICS & LAW

Media Ethics and Law is a required upper-level course in the Journalism & Media Studies major at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. The goal of the course is to introduce students to legal and ethical practices in journalism and provide a sense of journalists’ role in society. Students reason through real-world legal and ethical dilemmas in mass media and, in my sections, are asked to produce traditional texts in the form of take-home essay exams, and a scholarly interactive fiction in Twine 2.0 that reverse-engineers a journalistic quandary. My sections of Media Ethics & Law focused specifically on journalistic practice, virtue ethics, and propaganda, and were loosely structured like a role-playing game: students used 12-sided die to roll up Dungeons & Dragons-style journalist characters at the outset, and occupied these personas periodically throughout the class.


Syllabus+Schedule Interactive Fiction LMS (Canvas)
Sample D&D Campaign Sample Student Comments Sample Student Work
NOTE: This section follows the basic curriculum in the Media Ethics & Law sections outlined below, but with more readings on post-truth rhetoric, bullshit, and propaganda. Course documents and assignment handouts have been updated with new designs, and given the hybrid nature of the course, multimodality is encouraged more in all writing projects. We met once a week for 80 minutes, and virtually throughout the week via Canvas chat room and discussion board, Panopto webcast, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig. We also did an F2F group play of The Westport Independent in a flipped classroom module.


Taught in Fall 2014, Spring 2016 (F2F and hybrid), Summer 2016, Fall 2016 (hybrid), Summer 2017, Fall 2017.

Syllabus+Schedule Syllabus+Schedule (Hybrid) LMS (Sakai)
Sample D&D Profile Sheet Sample Student Comments Sample Student Work 1 + 2 (save as .html, then open)
NOTE: The curriculum above reflects the final iteration of my approach to this course sans the emphasis on post-truth literacies. I first taught the course in Fall 2014, just after undergoing a major surgery with a slow recovery time. As such, I couldn’t teach the course to the best of my ability, as reflected by my student evaluations that semester. So, with each subsequent course, I pushed myself to invent, adapt, and adopt creative approaches to stereotypically “boring” material, emphasizing interactivity, multimodality, and immersion. In 2015, I received a university grant to convert the course into a hybrid format, using online role-play, Panopto, Twine, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig to heighten interactivity during the virtual component of each week. Summer sections ran for 6 weeks and were similarly structured and taught, just with fewer readings, longer face-to-face meetings, and often through a flipped classroom approach.

WfM Newsworthy v. Snoozeworthy04:567:200 | WRITING FOR MEDIA

Writing for Media is a required course that seeks to teach students the fundamentals of writing across media platforms. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to write in a variety of journalistic and media-based styles, as well as have basic familiarity with the disciplinary techniques of the field, such as inverted pyramid news writing and AP style. When I was given this section, it was a face-to-face course that was so rigidly structured on eCollege that F2F instruction felt irrelevant. I modified my section of the course to reflect my Composition & Rhetoric background, switched the LMS to Sakai, and altered the online content to support our F2F class sessions instead of replacing them. I also eliminated writing quizzes and replaced them with writing exercise “flash challenges” a la Inkmaster or RuPaul’s Drag Race, complete with a leaderboard and course-related incentives like extra credit. I also incorporated creative exercises to foreground basic writing skills, such as using Jim Woodring’s “Frank and the Sugar of Vengeance” to practice concrete detail in reporting, or pieces from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology as the basis for sensitivity towards subjects.


Syllabus+Schedule Student-Generated “Creative” Rubric LMS (Sakai)
Sample Lesson Sample Student Comments
NOTE: We had an enrollment of 17 and met in a computer lab twice a week, where I conducted the course like a writing seminar. I was required to use James Stovall’s Writing for the Mass Media and added a “handbook,” Frank Cioffi’s One Day in the Life of the English Language. Despite personal misgivings about class pacing, I preserved the number of writing modules and attempted to implement a grammar component and in-class writing exercises in each class. I also gave students a fair amount of agency and self-advocacy; on the first day, we tweaked the syllabus together and also came up with a separate grading rubric (in addition to the standard ones for each assignment) that used metaphors like “tasting” writing to try to measure qualities like creativity, energy, provocativeness. The sample lesson included above is summarized in a presentation I gave during a teacher training at Rutgers; I first piloted the activity in Writing for Media, but had such success with it that I later adapted it for use in Media Ethics & Law as well.

MEL Calvin & Hobbes I Don't Believe in Ethics

04:567:201:02 | DIGITAL MEDIA ETHICS

This graduate course is offered through the Master of Communication and Media (MCM) program at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. The main objective of the course is to provide students with the theoretical underpinnings of ethical problems and applied case studies specific to digital media. I taught a fully online section using Canvas, supplemented with Panopto, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig. As such, it was a theory- and writing-intensive class, with 15 discussion boards, 2 response papers, and a final paper expanding on an issue identified in one of their responses.


Syllabus+Schedule LMS (Canvas) Discussion Board
Response Paper Prompt Sample Student Comments Yellowdig Pin
NOTE: This was a small, intimate course comprised of first-year Master’s students who had recently graduated, practicing journalists returning to school while working, and older students working towards their graduate degree. As it was a fully online course, I posted a video lecture with a transcript each week, and moderated a week-long discussion of the class material. Students were expected to post approximately 10 times each week, ending on Thursday (though I accepted posts until Sunday).


Taught at Baruch College, this course is meant to introduce students to the critical methods, policy issues, and creative forms involved in contemporary digital media in the United States and across the globe. Combining methods from the fields of media studies, political economy, visual culture, and cinema studies, the course examines a variety of historical case studies and technological platforms in order to explicate the industry structures, textual forms, and audience practices associated with contemporary digital media. I curated my own selection of course readings but conformed to the standard number of pages per week and other aspects of the basic curriculum. I conducted my sections of the course like seminars, using lectures, guided but open-ended discussions, and, unlike most of the department, essay-based assessments.


Syllabus+Schedule LMS (Blackboard) Student Evaluation Avg.
NOTE: This course is based on the curriculum below, but with increased attention paid to the role of technology in the postmodern surveillance society, as well as with updated LMS and course document design. I made a point of posting discussion questions to Blackboard under each module and using some of those questions as reading quizzes to encourage low-stakes engagement in our discussions.


Taught Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017.

Syllabus+Schedule Extra Credit Bristlebot LMS (Blackboard)

NOTE: I modified the basic curriculum for this course to reflect my interests in transgressive digital subcultures and to make more connections to modern issues in/around digitality. Despite the lecture-based nature of the course, I tried to emphasize hands-on interactivity wherever possible; as part of this tactic, after a class on maker culture, I offered extra credit to students who built, recorded, and/or brought in a bristlebot along with a short written reflection of the experience of constructing it.


COM 3062 Electric Jewelry for MiladyCOM 3062 | STUDIES IN ELECTRONIC MEDIA

This course, taught at Baruch College, examines  electronic media like radio, television, and digital technologies. Topics addressed include economic and regulatory history, the impact of technological change, and the role of electronic media in American society. My sections began with biological electricity and progressed through the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, computing, and virtual/augmented reality. We examined technology and the body, social use heuristics, and the side-by-side entangled development of the technical and the social. In the last section I taught, I focused on the idea that media is presented as “always-already new” by corporations, “expert” programmers, advertisers, and pop culture. We spent a large amount of time on the role of gender, race, and class in the social construction of electronic media systems, and we also approached electronic media from non-Western perspectives to consider issues of accessibility and exclusion.


Syllabus+Schedule LMS (Blackboard) Student Evaluation Avg.
NOTE: I updated my preexisting materials to emphasize the myth of “newness” that surrounds electronic media, but the syllabus is largely unchanged. I also modified the LMS and course document design, and I made a point of posting discussion questions to Blackboard under each module. I drew from those questions in our weekly reading quizzes to encourage students to think about them in advance and thereby prepare them for low-stakes class discussions.


Taught Spring 2015, 2016, 2017.

Syllabus+Schedule LMS (Blackboard) Student Evaluation Avg.
NOTE: I mostly conformed to the existing curriculum for this course but with a heavier emphasis on issues of embodiment, social construction, and intersectional approaches to media systems.


I designed and taught this special topics elective course at Baruch College, focusing on the culture, practices, and representations of techies, phone phreakers, Internet geeks, hackers, hacktivism, and trolls. We examined forums ranging from Usenet to 4chan and began with theories of cunning intelligence and kairos as formulated by the Sophists. We also looked at scholarship on craftsmanship, the hacker ethic, and affect theory and manipulation. Students are asked to produce a final project in which they select a contemporary case of digital transgression, explain it, and interpret it using the theories at hand.


Taught in Fall 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.

Syllabus+Schedule LMS (Blackboard) Student Evaluation Avg.
NOTE: I created this special topics course in Fall 2014, when I was recovering from a major medical event, and while I preserved the overall theme of the class I updated its readings, document design, and assessment methods every time I taught it. The materials above reflect the final iteration of the course. I used a final paper proposal and final paper assignment, an anomaly in a department that tended to lean towards exams.

IKEA wants you to “pee” for savings04:567:274 | CONSUMER MEDIA CULTURE

This conceptual course offered at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information aims to improve students’ critical understanding of advertising’s role in society. In it, we examine the history of advertising, the commercial and social aspects of the messages conveyed by ads, and advertising’s influence on institutions and spaces. I “inherited” this large lecture course in Spring 2015 after serving as a TA for it for two years. Class size ranged from 90 to 300. I used the curriculum developed by Dr. Jack Bratich, with the addition of iClicker for pop quizzes, attendance checks, and low-stakes multiple-choice discussion questions, and a creative “reverse engineering” assignment to assess student understanding of advertising history and (multimodal) techniques of persuasion.


Taught in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017.

Syllabus+Schedule Project De|Construct LMS (Sakai)
Sample Student Comments Sample Student Work Extra Credit Culture Jam

NOTE: This section was a large lecture course where I made few changes, except for deleting two small writing assignments and replacing them with a multimodal composition assignment that required students to take a fake product of my creation and draft advertisements for it that used the varying techniques of persuasion particular to different periods of advertising history. Course documents and assignment handouts were updated with new designs, and I implemented iClicker for pop quizzes, occasional attendance assessment, and low-stakes large group discussions. Notably, in Spring 2017, white supremacist flyers began appearing on campus. After learning about culture jamming, students asked if I could create a multimodal composition exercise teaching them to identify, exploit, and subvert propagandist techniques of persuasion in these flyers. I obliged and offered extra credit for it. (Some students used these “culture jam” flyers to cover up those of the hate groups.)


Syllabus+Schedule Sample Student Comments LMS (Sakai)
NOTE: I co-taught this section with Dr. Dara Murray, and while we preserved most of the original structure of the course, we modified the schedule of readings as well as the assigned texts themselves. We each taught one class a week and divided the grading between us.

SMC Fall14 Sample Tumblr Post04:567:275 | SOCIAL MEDIA & PARTICIPATORY CULTURE

This conceptual course, taught at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, takes a critical approach to understanding new media environments, especially concerning “social media,” “participatory culture,” “convergence,” and “interactivity.” The course seeks to situate these ideas in broader social, political, and historical contexts. We examined the role of social media and Web 2.0 in aspects of cultural life like friendship, intimacy, labor, celebrity, power, gender, race, sexuality, activism, and surveillance.



Syllabus+Schedule CV Dazzle – Class Photo Class Tumblr
Found Social Media Essay Sample Student Essay Sample Student Comments
NOTE: When I taught this course in the fall, I was recovering from major surgery, so when I was assigned this section I made several changes to the curriculum outlined below. While many of the readings remained the same, I modified the assignments and included more modes of delivery, from live Tweeting with the #smc15 hashtag to Tumblr use to in-class Vines and hands-on CV dazzle parties. I also incorporated multimodal composition into class assignments. As this section was a night class, the heightened interactivity helped keep everyone alert and engaged.


Syllabus+Schedule Sample Student Comments LMS (Sakai)
NOTE: I co-taught this section with Dr. Dara Murray, just after undergoing and while recuperating from major surgery. We each taught one class a week and divided the grading between us. Especially towards the beginning of the course, I implemented webcasts and online discussions as necessary, primarily using Panopto, podcasts, Twitter, and the Sakai chat room.

CMC GRC Ad American Apparel Blackface04:567:334 | GENDER, RACE, & CLASS IN THE MEDIA

This foundational course offered at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information considers the content, treatment, and effects of women and minority group coverage in TV, newspapers, magazines, popular music, and film. This section was offered online as a six-week summer course, and sought to help students become more critical consumers of media, with a better understanding of how media shapes culture and society, as with the psychological and political effects of stereotyping and consequences of economic structuring of the media. We also discussed the kinds of actions and policies that might encourage more diversified representations of women, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals, and other historically underrepresented populations.


Syllabus+Schedule Discussion Board LMS (eCollege)
Sample Student Comments
NOTE: As this was my first course at Rutgers, I more or less conformed to the existing curriculum. I did, however, add “sexuality” to the gender/race/class intersections promised in the course title. I delivered a video lecture each week via Panopto and moderated weekly online discussion boards.