This class is PERFECT for those who 1) know nothing (or very little) about the relationship between the media and the government and 2) are the "go to class and take notes" type (as described by another reviewer). If you go to class, sit near the front, and take notes, this class is truly enjoyable. Warning, however, Nacos does not put up with those who like to hear their own voices- she will shut you down quickly if she can tell you are an uninformed participant. She really knows her stuff (her book relating terrorism and the media is great...easy read and interesting). I know many students who worshiped her this past semester and loved going to class, myself included.
This class was basically a giant waste of time. Admittedly part of my dislike was with the course time, late evening Thursday nights, but Nacos' rambling lectures didn't help either. She handed out lecture outlines during every class but often side tracked herself with useless trajectories, then upon realizing she hadn't finished her outline would just continue lecturing past the end of class, sometimes up to 10-15 minutes past. The material is mostly common sense stuff with obvious conclusions. Readings are unnecessary, most stuff is lecture based. But be careful, the TAs grade arbitrarily. If you are unhappy with your grade I would fight it. Overall, boring class with no new information if you follow the news, and random grading.
The good news is that this class is easy. The bad news is that this class is a waste of time. I too was excited about the course after reading such good CULPA reviews, but I quickly realized my error. For one, Prof. Nacos simply doesn't seem to know much about how American media organizations actually work. She's a consumate outsider, and it shows. A quick example: She says that television news sets the national news agenda. Wrong. I've worked in TV news and I can tell you that they all get their news from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and the like. This is a simple, basic fact obvious to anyone who's worked in TV news. While Prof. Nacos doesn't, in my opinion, offer much insight into the realities of American journalism, she is adept at prescribing how things should be and/or used to be. My friendsÂ–Â–who have since stopped coming to classÂ–Â–and I had a little game where we would predict exactly when she would say "that's not how things used to be!" This class is a biweekly armchair quarterbacking session for Prof. Nacos to both bloviate on the decrepid state of the American media and reminisce on her time as a German newspaper reporter. The depth of her analysis is closer to what you would expect from a high school blogger than a tenured Columbia professor. I'd say you could take all of the interesting and insightful material in this course and compress it into a single 3 hour lecture. The question remains: Why such glowing CULPA reviews? My guess is that my fellow reviewers are: a) naive to how the American media reallly works and thus have no idea how much bullshit they are hearing; b) sympathetic to Prof. Nacos' take on "how things should be" and let that emotional satisfaction cloud or override the fact that they aren't learning anything. She preaches to the choir, and if you're into that sort of shared ignorance, then this is the class for you. But otherwise, look elsewhere my friends.
Leibovitz is one of the greatest TAs I've had; he set up an online weekly discussion question on Courseworks that really helped get the otherwise boring class moving. His grading was fair, and he was always available with advice.
Prof. Nacos is totally awesome, as is this class, particularly for anyone interested in the relationship between media and American politics (obviously) as well as anyone interested in journalism in general. You can really tell that she's had a lot of experiences with everything she talks about, particularly the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media (which is what her book is about). All the classes were informative and worthwhile, and Prof. Nacos clearly aimed the course at people who were curious about the subject, not just people trying to fill space on their program. (This was also clear based on the large number of grad students who took the class as well.) The reading list is great, although because reading the books isn't really necessary to do any of the assignments, I wound up putting them into my 'fun reading' category, which always gets looked at last. I do plan on reading them eventually, though, because they contain info relating to the media that's worth knowing.
Nacos knows her material extremely well and is a great lecturer. Even though the class bored me sometimes, I still enjoyed coming to class if only to hear her opinions on current events, especially on the media and terrorism (which she wrote the book on).
I'm not surprised by the negative feedback for Professor Nacos-- as the time slot for this class (6-8) may have contributed to the dwindling attendance. As other students have pointed out, her midterm and final are based almost exclusively on her lectures; you may think of the assigned readings as secondary material. She makes this very clear from the first day of class, and reminds the class throughout the semester. She prepares outlines for each lecture, and follows them extremely closely. She speaks from experience, and includes relevant and timely examples. I suspect that the more negative reviews are from students who did not attend class regularly. I'll admit that at first Professor Nacos' accent took some getting used to-- go to class, it gets easier to understand. She really knows her subject, and is wonderful to speak with during office hours. Being an election year, I think this added tremendously to the class, and what I took away with me.
interesting class, good readings (especially the book nacos wrote), good lectures (her accent is cool). the annoying thing is that most of the readings are on reserve, so you have to xerox most of it yourself. the grading is fair, although the TAs aren't particularly helpful during the semester. graded work comes directly from lecture notes (which are tied in very closely and carefully to assigned readings).
I really enjoyed this class, it was one of my favorites this semester. Professor Nacos knew a great deal about the subject and came prepared for class every day. The material included a lot about present day relations between the media, public, and government. I would recommend this class.
If you're a polisci major looking for an easy elective, this is a great class. The time slot sucks, but the midterm and final were pretty easy, and were graded generously. She lets you choose your own topic for your 8-10 page essay, as long as it's related to some topic covered in class. Overall, she is a pretty good lecturer, but has a tendency to let the class fall apart into an oversized discussion section after the first fifteen minutes. She gets pissed when people don't show up to lecture. Also, she's really great to talk to in office hours. She was more than happy to talk to me about my paper and guide me through it.
She seems incapable of staying on topic. Lectures were a waste of time. Her views about media are very European at best and fascist at worst. Save time in your schedule and take another class.
Excellent, excellent, excellent. That is, she's a goddess if you're the go-to-class-and-take-notes type. Her lectures are intersting, full of anecdotes and examples, and she is extremely well-spoken. I didn't do a single reading and I got an A because I attended every lecture and took extensive notes. However, if you're the sleep through class type, then you're screwed - her exams are based almost entirely on her lectures.