analysis of two media sources from differing ends of the political spectrum

Length: 3.5-5 Pages

Formatting: The paper should conform to 8th Edition MLA, which can be confirmed through the OWL at Purdue website (the link is on the Home page). This means you need to provide a Works Cited Page for the two media sources you are analyzing, as well as The Influencing Machine. As I mentioned in the syllabus, please convert Google doc files to Word doc or docx files. Canvas doesn’t play well with Google docs, especially when it comes to formatting.

TurnItIn: You will turn your final paper into TurnItIn, which allows you to see what percentage of your paper is pulled from outside sources. This allows me to not only seek out plagiarism, but it also allows you to identify if there are sections that aren’t being properly attributed to outside sources. As such, use it as a tool to assist your writing. Keep in mind that TurnItIn will detect any material that comes from an outside source, even if it is quotation marks. As such, it can often identify that 20-30% is similar to other texts. This does not inherently mean that you have committed plagiarism. If you have concerns about plagiarism, please let me know.

Justification: Before we engage in deep conversations concerning argumentative issues and solutions to local problems, it is important to examine how the information we receive is presented to us. This is especially important as much discussion recently has centered around the media and what role it should play, and does play, in influencing the masses.

This paper will hopefully help you identify the methods used by sources to frame information. In addition, I hope this paper will enhance your abilities to identify credible sources of information, which you can utilize in papers throughout the semester.

Basic Description: You will provide a detailed comparative analysis of TWO MEDIA SOURCES from differing ends of the political spectrum. This means one of your media sources would be more liberally tilted in their presentation of data, and the other would present data through a conservative lens. For the purposes of this exercise, this is important, as you are comparing the ways in which information is framed through these differing sociocultural lenses. This article (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. from The Washington Post might help you identify where certain publications land on the conservative/liberal spectrum. If you still need help identifying where particular sources land on the political spectrum, please e-mail me and I can assist.

You will analyze the manner in which these sources frame one current news story in one article or post; you are not addressing how the source address a news story over multiple articles/posts. Keep in mind that they should both be covering the exact same news item. Your analysis should exhibit an understanding of concepts addressed in class.

In addition, you will be required to integrate at least TWO concepts addressed in The Influencing Machine. Show us how their presentation of information is comparable to something addressed by Brooke Gladstone.

If you read the book thoroughly, as well as pay attention to concepts presented in class, you’ll have more to write about in your paper.

Topic/Scope: When I ask for “media sources,” I am referring to any sources that cover current events on a regular basis. This includes print publications, news websites, sociopolitical podcasts, political shows, etc.

A note of warning: I will NOT allow you to analyze social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter. I know they present news, but they are not inherently news platforms. In general, avoid focusing on forums that compile stories and resources from multiple news outlets, and are most likely presenting news stories that appeal to your search preferences.

Questions to answer: As you analyze the two news sources, consider the following questions:

  1. Overall evaluation of the sources- Do you feel as though these sources should be considered viable sources of news? Is one better than the other in presenting solid information? Why or why not? This evaluative thesis should be placed at the end of the introduction; the rest of the paper should serve to defend your assertion. Just make sure you are not going into the research process looking for ways to support your established opinion about the publication (that’s confirmation bias); let the evidence drive your argument. Keep in mind that the thesis doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. It could be a slightly biased source that relies too heavily on the emotions of its viewer, or a rather objective news publication that occasionally reveals a certain bias or relies on shady evidence. AVOID DUALISTIC THINKING! (Sorry for the caps, but this type of thinking is prevalent)
  2. Ethos- How do the publications appeal to ethos? How do they convey expertise? What type of experts do they call upon to discuss the issue? Do you feel as though the experts are the appropriate representatives to discuss the issues addressed? Do you feel as though they are credible sources? Why or why not?
  3. Pathos- How do the publications regularly appeal to pathos? Who do you think their intended audience is and how do they appeal to that audience’s core values and beliefs? What do they assume about their audience? Where do you feel as though the media source, and probably its audience, lean on the political spectrum?
  4. Logos- In what ways do the publications appeal to logos? How do they frame headlines or data in a manner that presents an argument? Based on what type of evidence do they rely upon to base their assertions? Where does it lie on the evidence hierarchy? Do you feel as though the evidence provided supports the inferences presented?
  5. Information- Has information been omitted from either of the publications? Are important facts being hidden away or deemphasized for the sake of the publication’s narrative? Consider doing a little research on the news article through multiple publications, not merely the two you are analyzing. Are there facts being covered in other sources that aren’t being covered in these two? Are they essentially playing fast and loose with the news?
  6. Visuals- How do they utilize visuals to influence their audience? (This is important to note, as you are required to include a visual in your final Proposal Paper)
  7. Objectivity- Do you feel as though the source is objective in their ability to cover issues? Do they use this news story to support a specific ideology? Are you able to recognize instances of confirmation bias?
  8. Definition- How do the publications seem to define certain groups? Do they classify, either explicitly, or in a more suggestive manner, a person or a group as a villain? Do they seem to frame certain people or groups as heroes?

Consider using the resources down below to assist. In particular, focus on the How to Detect Bias in the News sheet.

Helpful Material:

Some essential Influencing Machine Terminology Preview the document

Tentative Media Analysis OutlinePreview the document– you are not required to follow this outline, but it might give you an idea of how to structure the overall paper

How to detect media biasPreview the documentView in a new windowPreview the document– consider analyzing these elements in order to ascertain what your media sources finds important

FAIR page on How to Detect Media Bias (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.– This website from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting hits upon many of the same points of the last source, but expands upon them a little more

Evidence Rules and HierarchyPreview the documentView in a new windowPreview the document This is the handout I distributed in class that outlines my personal rules for evidence usage, as well as the evidence hierarchy. This will be EXCEPTIONALLY important for this analysis and the rest of the class

Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. – This was our fiirst reading. It outlines the components of true communication: listening, understanding, and responding. These are basically the fundamental tools for civil discourse. Pay attention to how closely media outlets follow these guidelines.

Jon Oliver’s Piece on Scientific Studies (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Warning: Not Safe for Work: Content that May Inform, but also Offend) – This clip from Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver highlights the many ways media outlets often misinterpret or simplify scientific research in order to search an agenda or to simply appeal to the general public. This simplification is dangerous and results in a populace. Jon Oliver is essentially addressing the nature of “bullshit”.

When Bad Theories Happen to Good Science (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. – This article from The Wall Street Journal elaborates upon how confirmation bias is prevalent, even among the scientific community, where people are supposed to be the biggest skeptics of their own ideas. Please remember this when you establish a hypothesis/belief: are you simply locating evidence that helps to support your own theories?

Why We Believe Weird Things (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. – This TEDTAlks featuring Michael Shermer outlines how cognitive biases that often guide our beliefs. In addition, he unpacks why it is important to be skeptical in the face of evidence. I would suggest you watch this and reflect upon the difference between fine grain vs. coarse grain data.

Media Analysis Rubric