MCO 496 Syllabus, Spring 2014

Iona College

Department of Mass Communication

MCO 496-C: Seminar in Communications

Instructor: Prof. David Cundy            Semester/Year: Spring 2014

Office: Murphy Center, Room M219            Phone:  914 633-2364

Office Hours: M, W 12:45-1:45 pm            Email Address:

Class Meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00-6:18 pm, Murphy 217


Course Description:

A synthesis of theoretical knowledge and applied research skills in student’s area of specialization in mass communication. It is the culminating experience and capstone of the program.

Course Prerequisites:

To register for this course, a student must be a declared mass communication major, have senior status (a minimum of 83 credits completed at the beginning of the semester), and have completed the majority of the courses for the major. Entrance into this course is by closed course card only available from the department advisor or chairman.


Readings and References:

Required Texts/Source Materials/Readings and References:

•      2 books or films of your choosing, for final research project

•      Notebooks, publications or newsletters as assigned

•      Organization information as assigned

•      Professional, career-oriented publications and articles as assigned


Suggested Reading

•            Essential Guide to Research Writing Across the Disciplines, by James D. Lester  (deceased) and Jim D. Lester (6th Edition) Longman,

•            The Exceptional Presenter, by Timothy J. Koegel, Greenleaf Group Press, Austin, TX., 2007

•            Are You Ready to Succeed by Dr. Srikumar S. Rao, Hyperion, New York, 2006

•            Career Journal in Wall Street Journal (available via Iona library)

•            Corner Office in Sunday New York Times (available via Iona library)

•            PRSA publications online

Professional Values and Competencies of ACEJMC


The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) requires that, irrespective of their particular specialization, all graduates should be aware of certain core values and competencies and be able to:

  1. Understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press for the country in which the institution that invites ACEJMC is located, as well as receive instruction in and understand the range of systems of freedom of expression around the world, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and as appropriate, other forms of in domestic society in relation to mass communication;
  4. Demonstrate and understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact mass communication in a global society;
  5. Understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in the pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
  7. Think critically, creatively, and independently;
  8. Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;
  9. Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;
  10. Critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;
  11. Apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
  12. Apply current tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work, and to understand the digital world.

Competencies most emphasized in this class are: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12

Specific Course Objectives:

At the end of this course the student should be able to:

•      Work on a team to produce a professional communications product in the student’s chosen Mass Communication concentration, working in a constructed environment that provides the attributes of a working situation, whether a newsroom or broadcast outlet or an ad agency or PR department/agency. (Assessment tool No. 1; PVCs 7, 8, 10)

•      Make a formal presentation of a research topic or professional project in an area of current interest focused on trends or developments in the student’s career track using multimedia technology (Assessment tool Nos. 2, 3 and 5; PVCs 7, 8, 9, 12)

•      Create a professional communications product (depending on personal interest and academic Mass Communication concentration). The final outcome will be a paper of between 12 and 15 pages reflecting current thinking and future direction of an aspect of mass communication. The paper will be written in a standard style, with frequent source mentions and a list of sources appended that number at least 20. Also included should be two books that you will summarize in class presentations. Further, the paper will be the source for a series of blog postings on a blog created online and maintained during the course. It may also be the source of Tweets or other social media content. The preferred style standard for most papers will be Associated Press, but MLA or APA may be used with the approval of the professor (Assessment tool No. 2; PVCs 7, 8, 9, 12)

•      Develop a career plan and formulate the elements of a job search in the mass communication industry and analyze a current book on the communications or journalism industry (Assessment tool Nos. 4 and 5; PVCs 7, 8, 9, 12)

Assessment Tools:


1.      Team Project and Presentation of Results (20 points)

The class will be divided into teams loosely based on major discipline: journalism; broadcast; advertising; PR. Each team will develop a project – to be approved by the professor – that will demonstrate capabilities of working on a team as well as a professional-level of work suitable for a portfolio that can be used to demonstrate capabilities to prospective employers. Students will be responsible for forming a team, for brainstorming and defining the project, for assignments, for deadlines and for final presentation of the work. Weekly progress reports will be part of the grading. In addition, students will rank other team members on contributions and the ratings will account for 40 percent of the final grade for this portion of the course.

2.      Final Personal Project  (50 points)

Produce a paper or project like one of the following, which will be the basis or the presentation described by examples (not exhaustive) below.

A.      A 12-15-page paper (exclusive of references, abstract, title page, and appendices and source listing) in AP style (see professor if you prefer APA or MLA) on some question involving mass communication’s effects on society or future direction. The paper will be graded on 5 categories:

• completeness,

• organization,

• analysis,

• depth of research,

• use of standard English grammar.

Alternative project formats, which may be approved.

B.      A journalistic paper of original reporting 12 pages in AP style on a topic that explores current trends in the industry or a topic of your choice, approved in advance by the professor.

C.      An advertising portfolio showing a strategy and a campaign for a product or service. Can build on previous work, but must be approved by professor.

D.      A broadcasting project involving a short film on a topic of communications, with full script and direction.


A.      Each student will be assigned 15 minutes to make a presentation to the class of the work-in-progress of his/her research or production (see above) and two books reviewed (see No. 5 below). The session consists of an oral presentation, followed by a brief question-and-answer session led by the student. The presentation MUST be accompanied by PowerPoint slides and may have other audiovisual components, such as video segments, handouts, or posters.

B.      Each student will present two book reports of about ten minutes each.

C.      Each student will make a 60-second “elevator speech” on personal qualifications for a career opportunity.

Career Portfolio: Each student must create a portfolio that includes:

A.      Autobiographical Projection and Long-term Objectives

B.      Resume

C.      Cover Letter

D.      Analysis of the Current State of the Industry

The professor will grade a final submission of the portfolio according to its completeness and quality. Quality includes: no typos, no random characters or punctuation, clear, concise and grammatically correct presentation.

3.      Book Summaries  (10 points)

Two-page written reports on two books on current events or mass communication issues. Must be approved by professor.

4.      Social Media (10 points)

Students will establish a WordPress site as a repository for research and other curriculum-related materials.

5.      Class Participation (10 points)

The Senior Seminar will be highly interactive and cooperative. Students’ participation will be critical to helping other students succeed, and providing insights to others from lessons learned conducting career research. Therefore, participation will be an important component of your grade.


Based on the points available for the projects or activities outlined below, grades will be earned by students according to the following schedule.

435 – 391 = A

390 – 368= B+

367 – 345 = B

344 – 322 = C+

321 – 299 = C

298 – 254 = D

<253 = F

There is no provision for extra credit in this course.

Diversity Component

All courses taught in the Department of Mass Communication at Iona College contain a module integrated into the course that explores the issue of the diversity of groups in relation to the mass communication industry. Examples of diversity will be integrated into MCO496 class content. Among other issues, MCO496 will discuss diversity in the job interview and hiring process in the mass communication professions. (PVC #3)


Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty:

College Policy: Cheating and plagiarism subvert both the purpose of the College and the experience students derive from being at Iona. They are offenses which harm the offender and the students who do not cheat. The Iona community, therefore, pledges itself to do all in its power to prevent cheating and plagiarism, and to impose impartial sanctions upon those who harm themselves, their fellow students, and the entire community by academic dishonesty. When a case of academic dishonesty surfaces, a report will be filed with the dean of Arts and Sciences. In the case of a second instance, a student may be suspended from the College. Students may appeal first to the professor who discovered the instance; second, to the department chair; and third, to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. The decision of the dean is final. Students may appeal to the Provost if the suspension is five class days or less. The student handbook describes the procedures of adjudication.

The College policy, as applied to this course, is that citations are required for all quotations, paraphrases or concepts derived from third party sources.


General Course Policies:

Attendance and lateness: Because of the participatory nature of this course, you are required to come to class. If you must be absent, please e-mail me with a general reason (please do not provide personal details) in advance. More than three unexcused absences or frequent tardiness displays a lack of interest in the course and will be reflected in your participation/attendance grade. If you miss more than three classes (regardless of whether they are excused or unexcused) you may be given a grade of “FA,” or failure due to excessive absence.

Computers and cellphones: Your successful performance in this class will require concentration. Therefore, cellphones are to be used only during class break periods. Failure to follow this policy will result in a failing grade. Computers are permissible only for note-taking. If you bring a computer to class, you will e-mail your notes from that day to me.

Computer Skills: Computer literacy and facility with the college’s on-line system is essential for this course. Much of the research will be done on-line and significant teacher-student communication will take place using e-mail or the Blackboard system. It is the responsibility of the student to have a working User ID and password and to schedule time in the school’s computer labs if the student does not have at-home access. The student is expected to check his/her e-mail frequently during the week.

Timeliness: Timely submission of assignments is required. Again, e-mail me in advance if you cannot submit an assignment on time. The semester assignment must be submitted on or before the exam date.

Appeal of Assigned Grade: If a student believes that an error has been made in grade assignment, there is a specific procedure to follow. First, discuss with the instructor the basis on which the grade was assigned. If the student is still not satisfied, an appeal may be made to the department chair. Such appeal should be made in writing, stating the basis upon which the grade is questioned and requesting a departmental review. If, following the review, the student is not satisfied with the departmental decision, a final appeal may be made to the academic dean of the department involved. A student has until the tenth day of the new semester to have a grade other than “I” changed.

Course and Teacher Evaluation (CTE) Iona College now uses an on-line CTE system. This system is administered by an outside company and all the data is collected confidentially. No student name or information will be linked to any feedback received by the instructor. The information collected will be compiled in aggregate form by the agency and distributed back to Iona administration and faculty, with select information available to students who complete the CTE. Your feedback in this process is an essential part of improving our course offerings and instructional effectiveness. We want and value your point of view.

Course Outline:

Subject to change as required. Changes will be posted to Blackboard.


Week 1, class 1 (Wednesday, January 22):           

Lecture/Discussion: Introduction

  • Review Syllabus/Blackboard site
  • Expectations of final projects
  • Course Goals
  • Review of research topics, processes
  • Discuss kinds of organizations to track

Week 2, class 1:           

Toolset establishment: Notebook setup

Week 2, class 2:           

“Morning Meeting”: Group Project Discussion

•      Working in teams

•      Morning Meeting Concept and Project Discussions

Monday Team: Notebook Update

Homework Assignment 3A: Potential Employer / Final Personal Project

Choose a potential employer to study and a blog/pub to read. Hand in at least a paragraph on each as to why it they are interesting and what attracted you to them. (5 points)

Homework Assignment 3B: Unique Selling Proposition

What is your unique selling proposition based on Career Branding exercise (see below)? Be prepared to discuss. Write down and bring to class. (5 points)


1.      Review this Web site regarding personal brand: Career Branding: What’s the Value of Your Personal Brand? (posted under links on Blackboard)

2.      A Quintessential Careers Quiz.

Online video lecture

Go to YouTube and watch MCO 496 Lecture 1 (URL to be provided).

Homework Assignment 3C: Personal Profile / Notebook site

Write 250 words describing your personal profile. What are your mass media interests and career goals? Reflect personal branding from reading. Due by midnight Sunday. (5 points)

Week 3, class 1:           


•      Portfolio process

•      Job search strategies

•      Case studies

Book Reports and Personal Projects

Defining yourself as a professional

  • Professional blog assignments.
  • Discussion: Personal Branding Exercise and discussion (see reading for Week 2, class 2)

Wednesday Team: Notebook Update


1.            Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker, in Week 2 folder on Blackboard.

2.            Review list of books for book reports

Homework Assignment 3D: Book Selection / Final Personal Project

Submit names of two books you will read, review and use in final project.

Homework Assignment 3E: Class Reunion Entry / Career Portfolio

Autobiographical Projection and Career Goals – write an entry for your Iona class reunion brochure

10 years after your graduation. (10 points)

Week 3, class 2:           

Morning Meeting

  • Demonstration of meeting concept
  • Set teams and project directions/project types

Monday Team: Organization Reports


1.      Read summary of how small teams work (in Course Documents for Week 2 on Blackboard)

2.      Read article on Emotional Leadership

Homework Assignment 4A: Employer Presentation / Group Project

Submit two ideas for a group project to be completed in six to eight weeks and that would be valuable to show a potential employer. Post in Notebook site by midnight Tuesday (5 points)

Homework Assignment 4B: Skills Evaluation / Notebook site

Based on your search for a job online, what skills do you need or need to enhance? (5 points)

Week 4, class 1:           

Guest Lecture: Keith Hassell from Center for Career Development

Wednesday Team: Organization Reports


Read description of team project.(posted in Week 3 folder on Blackboard)

Homework Assignment 4C: Research Ideas / Final Personal Project

Develop a proposal for Personal Final Project — submit two ideas of a research topic that interests you, involves a current topic in mass communication, relates to your mass communication discipline (advertising, PR, video/broadcast or journalism).

Homework Assignment 4D: Current Resume / Career Tools/Portfolio

Turn in your current resume for review. (5 points)

Week 4, class 2:           

Group Project Morning Meeting

Voting on proposed projects

Dividing into teams

Monday Team: Notebook Update

Onine video

Watch video on networking:

Week 5, class 1:           

Lecture/Discussion: Start on Personal Project

Wednesday Team: Notebook Update


Look at one of the following sites and see assignment below.

11 Trends to Watch in PR:

Predictions for Journalism for 2011:

AdAge Outlook series (read three of them for assignment below)

Review issues and topics in television;

Homework Assignment 5A: Article analysis / Career Tools/Portfolio

Write 250 words on what you learned from one of the prediction/trends articles. What do you need to know? What do you disagree with? How might this fit into your personal project? Bring to class. (10 points)

Homework Assignment 5B: Career Tools/Portfolio

Fill in self-esteem action plan posted in Week 5 Folder on Blackboard. Due in class. (5 points)

Week 5, class 2:           

Guest lecturer: Nonprofit communications manager

Monday Team: Organization Update

Group Project Morning Meeting

  • Discuss Options — brainstorming
  • Project Development processes, examples


Keep up with book for Report No. 1 (due in two weeks)

Homework Assignment 6A: Group Project Progress Report

Each team should turn in an update of progress on project. Email to professor by midnight Sunday.


Assignment 6B: Notebook Site Reading Analysis

What are you learning from reading your industry blog? Talk about the surprises from the first month of reading. Due by midnight Tuesday. (5 points)

Week 6, class 1:           


  • Professional Development
  • The great networking concept
  • Networking reports

Wednesday Team: Organization Update


Annual Survey of Mass Communications jobs (course documents, Week 6 on Blackboard)

How Fortune 500 Companies are Using Social Media from PRSA Journal – Posted in Week 6 Folder on Blackboard

Homework Assignment 6C: Cover Letter / Career Tools/Portfolio

Draft 1; write a letter for a specific job. Include the job description with the letter. (10 points)

Homework Assignment 6D: Revised job letter

Submit revised and updated job letter

Homework Assignment 6E: Jobs Survey Analysis / Career Tools/Portfolio

Write a 2-page essay on what you learn from the survey of mass communications jobs. How will you change your focus and job search strategies? Due in class. (15 points)

Week 6, class 2:           

Group Project Morning Meeting

  • Present Big Idea concept
  • Start drafting copy, scripts, stories, etc.
  • Update schedules

Monday Team: Notebook update


100 Tips for finding a job from HR Managers (in Week 7 folder on Blackboard)

Homework Assignment 7A: Skills Inventory / Career Tools/Portfolio

Fill out Experience and Skills Inventory. Posted on Blackboard. (5 points)

Homework Assignment 7B: Memo / Group Project

Update memo to professor by midnight, Tuesday (5 points)


Homework Assignment 7C: Tips analysis / Notebook site

What were the most valuable tips from the reading 100 Tips? Did they come from a company executive where you might like to work? How will you employ that information? 250 words. Due midnight Tuesday. (5 points)

Watch BusinessWeek video on finding a job or internship: See link on Blackboard.

Week 7, class 1:           

Book Reports

10-minute presentation on first book; hand in two-page review.

Wednesday Team: Notebook update


Careers: Intern to Game Designer (in Week 7 Folder on Blackboard)

Careers: Scoring Unlisted Jobs (in Week 7 Folder on Blackboard)

Homework Assignment 7D: Networking Database / Career Tools/Portfolio

Begin your networking database (in Week 7 folder on Blackboard). Bring to class. (5 points)

Homework Assignment 7E: Education and Training Inventory / Career Tools/Portfolio

Create education and training inventory (in Week 7 folder on Blackboard) Make sure all elements are on your resume. (10 points)

Homework Assignment 7F: Group Project Update

Weekly update on Team Project.


Homework Assignment 7G: Job Analysis / Notebook site

Find another job that seems interesting. Briefly describe what you think is good about it.

Week 7, class 2:           

Book Reports

10-minute presentation on first book.

Week 8, class 1:           

Book Reports

10-minute presentation on first book.

Week 8, class 2:           


  • Staying employed; good practices
  • It’s not a world like “The Office”
  • The details count
  • Corporate cultures

Monday Team: Organization Update


Careers: Answering Off-the-Wall Questions (in Week 9 Folder on Blackboard).

PR Tactics: Technology Etiquette in the Job Search (in Week 8 Folder on Blackboard).

Homework Assignment 9A: Final Personal Project

Six other sources on the topic. Sources should include blog and company information from weekly reports/updates. (5 points)

Homework Assignment 9B: Final Resume / Career Tools/Portfolio

Create a “final” version of your resume for a specific job (include the job description), include suggestions from class reviews, active verbs, etc. (10 points)

Assignment 9C: Cover Letter / Career Tools/Portfolio

Cover letter pointed to job in 6C (5 points)

Week 9, class 1:           

Group Project Morning Meeting

  • Meeting with client/boss
  • Dress run, final drafts

Wednesday Team: Organization Update


Assignment 9D: Group Project Update

Weekly update on Team Project — email to professor by midnight Sunday.


Corporate culture: Watch 30 minutes of this WalMart documentary:

Assignment 9E: WalMart Analysis

150 words on Notebook site: What did you learn? Why would WalMart give such access to CNBC? How would you describe the WalMart corporate culture? What is important to them? What PR challenges do they face? Due by midnight Sunday. (10 points)

Week 9, class 2:           


  • Diversity in mass communication professions
  • Professional associations and other networking tools
  • Resumes: Good, bad and ineffective

Monday Team: Notebook update


Emotional Intelligence at Work and Play (in Week 9 Folder on Blackboard)

Homework Assignment 10A: Notebook

Create WordPress (or other free blog site) blog. Send URL to professor by midnight, Saturday. Write first blog entry. (5 points)

Homework Assignment 10B: Job Search Calendar / Career Tools

Fill out one week of your calendar for job searching. Be realistic. See Daily Job Search organizer in Week 10 Folder on Blackboard. Bring to class. (5 points)

Week 10, class 1:           

Group Project Morning Meeting

Meeting with client/boss

Dress run, final drafts

Wednesday Team: Notebook update

Homework Assignment 10C: Memo to professor / Group Project

Update memo to professor by midnight Sunday. (5 points)


For some true insights into how a small PR firm works, pick some episodes from “Kell on Earth.” Discuss on Notebook site.

Homework Assignment 10D: Impression of episode

Post impressions of the episode(s) you watched. Due by midnight Sunday. (5 points)

Week 10, class 2:           


  • Good interviewing practices
  • Presenting yourself properly
  • The 60-second personal commercial

Monday Team: Organization Update


Career Journal: The Interview That’ll Bag a Job (in Course Documents for Week 8 on Blackboard)

Final Personal Project/samples

Homework Assignment 11A: Final paper introduction / Final Personal Project

First four pages of final paper.

Homework Assignment 11B: Career Portfolio / Career Tools/Portfolio

Turn in Career Portfolio (30 points)

Homework Assignment 11C: 60-second Commercial / Career Tools/Portfolio

Develop your personal 60-second commercial. Form is in Week 9 Folder on Blackboard. (5 points)

Week 11, class 1:           

Morning Meeting

Present the almost-final project

Wednesday Team: Organization Update


Career Journal: Dealing with a Bad Boss (in Week 11 Folder on Blackboard)

Homework Assignment 11D: Group Project Presentation

Present the almost-final Group Project (15 points)


Homework Assignment 11E: Career Portfolio Analysis / Career Tools/Portfolio

What did you learn from putting together your career portfolio? What do you have to focus on? How will you gage your progress? 250 words in Notebook site by midnight Sunday.

Week 11, class 2:           

Lecture/Discussion: Salaries

  • What should you ask for?
  • How to negotiate?
  • What about other non-cash?

Wednesday November 13 (week 12)

Morning Meeting

Final Group Presentations

Homework Assignment 12A: Documentation / Group Project

Hand in set of final PowerPoints and strategy documents; or script; or text of stories, etc. (30 points)

Homework Assignment 12B: Team Ratings / Group Project

Team Collaboration Ratings


Homework Assignment 12C: New Word Analysis / Notebook site

Review new words of 2010 and comment on ones you didn’t know or that surprised you. (5 points)

Week 12, class 1:           

Monday Team: Notebook Updates


Dress Codes for Women in the workplace:

There is a brochure for UBS, a European Bank, posted in Week 10 folder. Here is the translation:

Homework Assignment 13A: Book 2 Presentation and Report

Final Personal Project In-class presentation on book No. 2; 2-page book report due. (10 points)

Homework Assignment 13B: Dress Code Commentary / Notebook post

Comment on UBS dress code. What do you think about dress codes? Why would they be valuable? What kinds of jobs would they fit best? Due by midnight Sunday. (5 points)

Week 12, class 2:           

Guest Lecturer


Wednesday Team: Notebook Updates


“Lifting the Curtain on Hiring Practices” (Posted in Week 13 Folder on Blackboard)


Homework Assignment 13C: YouTube Video Impressions

Find a YouTube video about your career area or a company that you would like to work at. Write a short essay about your impressions and what you would do to help the organization from a communications point of view. (5 points)


Assignment 12B: Final paper first draft / Final Personal Project

Submit first draft of paper with sources. (10 points)

Week 13, class 1:           


  • Diversity in the Workplace
  • Value of diverse backgrounds, points of view

Monday Team: Organization Updates

Homework Assignment 14A: Perspective Insight

Describe a situation where you have learned from someone with a different background or orientation than yours. (10 points)


Homework Assignment 14B: Comments on Insights from Guest Speakers

As noted. (5 points)

Week 13, class 2:           

Wednesday Team: Organization Updates

Final Personal Project Presentation and Discussion

15-minute PowerPoint presentation and 5-minute discussion.

Week 14, class 1:           

Final Personal Project Presentation and Discussion

15-minute PowerPoint presentation and 5-minute discussion.

Week 14, class 2:           

Final Personal Project Presentation and Discussion

15-minute PowerPoint presentation and 5-minute discussion.

Week 15, class 1:           

Final Personal Project Presentation and Discussion

15-minute PowerPoint presentation and 5-minute discussion.

Week 15, class 2:           

Final Personal Project Presentation and Discussion

15-minute PowerPoint presentation and 5-minute discussion.

Homework Assignment 16A: Final Personal Project

Turn in Final Personal Project (50 points)

Final Exam Period:           


Interviews, 60-second commercials, etc.


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