JOUR 4321 Media Institutions and Economics

About the Course

JOUR 4321-640 Media Institutions and Economics seeks to unpack and critically examine the institutional underpinnings of the business of media from a perspective that considers the concept of institution both narrowly and broadly. In the narrow sense, an institutional analysis of communication media focuses on the organizations, corporations, business practices, and economic forces associated with the production and delivery of media products and services. More broadly, the institutional approach accounts for the institutionalized practices, social relations, cultural practices, and historical contingencies that shape the character and the trajectory of communication media in modern and contemporary capitalist societies.


  • Provide a broad familiarity with, and critical understanding, of the complex nexus of economic, political, social, and cultural practices within which media of communication and cultural production are embedded
  • Become literate in the concepts and substantive knowledge associated with recent and current theorization of changes in the media sector that for many observers constitutes a communication revolution
  • Imbue in students the ability to read commentary on media business (within news media and academic literature) and to respond critically to positions on the politics and economics of media in writing and discussion
  • Cultivate critical users of media and active citizens in the public sphere

Grade Breakdown

Discussion Items 35%
Critical Thinking Written Assignments 15%
Final Project 50%

Required Text

Benkler, Y. (2006) The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 13: 9780300125771

Instructor Contact


Doug Wagner completed his doctorate in Mass Com in 1998 (at the age of 47) at CU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research interests include the political economy of media (and of the “global economy”), the business of media, and international communications (with emphasis on the so-called less developed countries). During and immediately following the years of the dot-com boom, Doug worked in the information technology industry as a manager and designer of learning projects for academia and industry and wrote extensively on the business of communication and information technology for an industry trade publication and an online encyclopedia.

On a personal note, Doug is a nice guy with three grown-up children who does not mind students calling him at home. He enjoys a range of extracurricular activities including all manner of mountain sports, reading, and watching and discussing films.

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


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1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado