Spring 2020 - CMNS 331 D100

News Discourse as Political Communication (4)

Class Number: 1224

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    at least one of CMNS 235 or 240.



An examination of journalism and the news media as a set of institutions with important political and ideological roles. The course overviews theoretical perspectives and applies selected theoretical concepts to such topics as: influences on media content, how news generates meaning, ideological aspects of media frames, and the evaluation of journalism's performance in relation to normative expectations of democratic political communication.


Much of what we know, or think we know, about the political world is derived from news media.  In this course, we will examine the news media as a set of institutions that have important political and ideological implications. We will focus on news discourse as a form of political communication and consider what factors influence news content, and what methods can be used to analyze the ways news media create meaning. A particular focus is the contrast between different mainstream or corporate media outlets, and/or alternative media sources, in the international and local contexts.

This course has a strong emphasis on theory and its application. We will review, among other concepts, critical and cultural theories of news, the role of news media in democratic societies, and, to some extent, theories of framing and ideology. It is imperative that students keep up with the readings in this course.


  • Tutorial Attendance and Participation 15%
  • Tutorial Presentation 15%
  • News Journal 20%
  • Term Paper Proposal 15%
  • Media Analysis Paper 35%
  • *Subject to change with notice


The School expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades.  In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03, and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline. 
(Note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies).


Note:  A minimum 2.25 CMNS CGPA, and 2.00 overall CGPA, and approval as a communication student is required for entry into most Communication upper division courses.



Boczkowski, P. J., & Anderson, C. W. (Eds.).  Remaking the news: Essays on the future of journalism scholarship in the digital age.(2017). MIT Press. 
ISBN: 978-0262036092

Additional readings may be assigned during the course.  If so, they will be made available through Canvas.  In addition, students will be expected to monitor the news media regularly and use current examples in class.  

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html