Provides an overview of thinking about the mass media and an introduction to the major social science approaches to the study of journalism within the context of mass communication. Explores critical and theoretical approaches to understanding contemporary mass media. Focuses on television, newspapers, and new media in an examination of the meanings, benefits, and practices of one of the most widespread sign systems of our time. Students learn how to decode the media messages that proliferate around us. Prerequisites: MASC 1840 and junior or senior status.