Spring 2024 Communications Course Offerings
Please note that courses offered by the Communications program rotate each semester. The list below covers only spring 2024. Please consult the LionPATH schedule for more information (sections, times, etc.).
COMM 001: Newspaper Practicum
Through this class, students will work as reporters, photographers, editors, and advertising representatives to publish the Altoona Collegiate Review newspaper online and for circulation throughout campus. Reporters are assigned beats as with a regular newspaper and are responsible for finding leads and generating stories. Photographers handle both photo assignments from writers and enterprise assignments that they develop on their own. Editors copy-edit stories and design pages. Ad representatives sell advertising to community businesses and/or organizations to support the cost of the publication. This is modeled after working newspapers, and there is a strong emphasis on teamwork. Note: Students are urged to either have already taken COMM 260W or to be enrolled concurrently with this course.
COMM 100N: Mass Media and Society(GH; GS; US; Interdomain)
Mass Media and Society is an overview of the interaction between mass media, society, and culture, with particular attention paid to the social influences that shape media messages. The aim of this course is to help students understand the role of mass media in our society. During the semester, we cover a wide range of topics, including the historical development of the media industries, media technologies, media research, audience reception, economies of mass communication, textual analysis, media and politics, and media and law. Since mass media plays such a crucial role in our society, it is important to understand its influence, how it is produced, and who controls its production, distribution, and exhibition in order to improve one’s media literacy skills. By the end of the semester, you will have a better understanding of the forces that affect what you read, see, and hear every day. By better understanding the ways in which media work, the hope is that by the end of this semester, you will be more informed and critical of media producers and consumers.
COMM 110: Media and Democracy (GH; BA)
This course seeks to introduce students to the important role of the mass media in developing conceptions of democracy and democratic participation in contemporary societies. Utilizing current events, popular culture, and the students' own relationship to media as the template, this course is designed to stimulate student thinking about the interrelationship between the dynamics of US culture, news, politics, and civil society in order to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of what civic engagement and global awareness can do towards nurturing democracy's principles and practices.
COMM 150N: The Art of the Cinema (GA; GH; Interdomain)
The primary goal of this course is to help students gain an understanding of film as a medium, an art form, a business, and a key part of popular culture. Main topics include learning the formal elements and techniques of filmmaking, the emergence of cinema as an institution and business, the global dominance of Hollywood cinema, the history and development of American film as a business and an art form, analysis of film genres, the study of important forms of world cinema, the study and application of basic theories of film, the introduction of film aesthetics, and alternative approaches to film making. Class activities will focus on readings, film showings, short film clips, short lectures, and discussions. The core purpose of the course is to make film viewing a conscious, critical, and analytic activity.
COMM 205: Gender, Diversity, and the Media (GS; US; BA)
This course investigates the role of media representations in shaping our ideas about society and culture, with particular attention paid to how media portrayals of gender, race, and ethnicity influence perceptions and understandings of different social groups. Course topics focus on case studies involving a range of different media and groups. Class activities include weekly readings, short reading response papers, student presentations, class discussions, and two examinations. NOTE: This course is also cross-listed as WMNST 205.
COMM 242: Basic Video/Film Production
Learn basic video production using digital cameras and nonlinear editing software. This course includes camera and lighting basics, shooting techniques, and editing principles. Prerequisite: COMM 150.
COMM 260W: News Writing
This course helps beginning journalists learn how to write a news story, from determining what is news to figuring out who the sources are, to formulating questions to ask, to putting it all together in a cohesive, understandable fashion aimed at the reader or listener. Students learn proper techniques for print, broadcast, and online news outlets and learn the differences between news and feature writing. There is a strong emphasis on spelling, grammar, and Associated Press style (the industry standard). Class discussions and critique sessions of fellow students’ work help students hone their own skills throughout the term. Prerequisite: ENGL 15 or 30 (also COMM 160 for Bellisario/UP pre-majors only).
COMM 320: Introduction to Advertising
This course introduces students to the advertising industry and provides a foundation for understanding what advertising is and how it developed to its current state, what it tries to accomplish, how it works, and how it can affect society. Prerequisite: Third-semester standing.
COMM 374: Audio Production
Studio techniques for the production of audio essays, musical portraits, news and on-air editorials, and radio drama are explored through various writing and control room exercises. Students learn how to make interesting, marketable audio material suitable for both broadcast and non-broadcast markets. This course also covers the aesthetic limitations of each format and the marketing potential in the current broadcast and narrowcast markets. The cultural genesis and a brief history of each medium and format provide the context for the producer, as will readings covering the ethical and legal constraints particular to each production medium. Prerequisite: COMM 100.
COMM 413W: The Mass Media and the Public (BA)
An examination of the relationship between media institutions and the public. The class examines public policy, media routines, media content, and the role of the public in shaping media messages and communication policy. Theoretical social scientific perspectives related to media's impact on society are explored. This course counts for 400-level Theory credit in the COMAL major.
COMM 470A: Convergent Media News Service: Newspaper
COMM 470C: Convergent Media News Service: Multimedia and Online Publications
These advanced courses are unique to Penn State Altoona's Communication major and give students opportunities to choose a primary media format, either The Collegiate Review newspaper or the Live Wire multimedia online magazine. Students in each section will work primarily in their chosen format but will also reformat some of their work in a secondary media format, either the newspaper or the online magazine. The courses give students experience in crossing between media formats, an important skill in our convergent media world. They also provide publication opportunities for portfolios and a chance to participate in a cutting-edge media service. Prerequisite: COMM 260W and at least one 400-level Application course in the COMAL major; for 470C, also COMM 270.
COMM 481: Advanced Multimedia Production
This course builds on the foundations of multimedia production developed in COMM 270, giving students the opportunity to create multimedia website projects. Students will apply advanced multimedia concepts and techniques to website production and demonstrate versatility in multimedia software. Working individually and in teams, students will develop projects for clients using multimedia software, including web authoring, video editing, audio editing, image editing, and animation software. These projects will be uploaded to the World Wide Web and will serve as portfolio materials for the students. This course emphasizes skills development in multimedia and visual media in support of the program objective to help students develop cross-media skills and versatility in media. This course counts for 400-level Application credit in the COMAL major.
COMM 490A: Convergent Media Seminar
This class has the dual purpose of preparing students for the Communications job market and of providing them with the opportunity to critically examine and articulate their understanding of the effects of media on society. In addition, students are challenged to examine the ethical responsibilities they have as media practitioners. Besides readings, papers, and discussions, students work on portfolios and resumes to prepare for the job market and/or do research projects and plan for entrance into graduate school for further study in Communications. Prerequisites: Seventh- or eighth-semester standing and 3 credits of COMM 470.