Communication Studies (CMNS) 444

Media Relations (Revision 2)


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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. CMNS 301 or a course in communication theory is recommended but not required.

Precluded course: CMNS 444 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 2 different disciplines—GOVN 444. (CMNS 444 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for GOVN 444 or HSRV 444).

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CMNS 444 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course is intended for students of media relations, practitioners, and those with a more general or theoretical interest in the subject. It relies on theories of the mass media in order to address the role of media relations in organizations and the practice of media relations in the context of both old and new media. The course discusses current issues and topics in order to explore the historically complex relationship between journalists and media relations practitioners.

Learning Objectives

Media Relations is intended to

  • Define the role and nature of media relations within organizations
  • Explain the interconnected history of journalism and media relations
  • Discuss the sociology of news production
  • Discuss the fundamental role and nature of the news media
  • Understand the design of information in the context of media and audience
  • Describe media ownership and convergence in Canada
  • Build an effective media relations plan on which to base practice
  • Describe key media drivers and the role of the news release
  • Describe the growing role of “new media” in news gathering and dissemination, and their impact on traditional media
  • Identify best practices in citizen-generated media


  • Unit 1—Producing the News: The Role of Media Relations
  • Unit 2—News Media and Public Relations: A Mutual Evolution
  • Unit 3—Effective Media Relations: No Accident
  • Unit 4—Constructing the News: Tools and Strategies
  • Unit 5—“New Media” Relations
  • Unit 6—Corporations, Critics, and Other Challenges


To receive credit for CMNS 444, you must pass each assignment and the final examination with a minimum grade of D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 35%
Assignment 3 25%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Carney, W. W. (2008). In the news: The practice of media relations in Canada (2nd ed.). Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta Press.

Other Materials

Most of the course materials for CMNS 444 are available online through the course website. These materials include on online Study Guide, Student Manual, and assigned readings.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 444 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Activity Weighting
Part I: Essay 50%
Part II: Online exam 50%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, April 19, 2017.

View previous syllabus