Media Analysis Essay 2: Analyzing Advertisements

For this assignment, you need to select ONE campaign from the 15 campaigns selected by AdAge as the top ad campaigns of the 21st century. You will find the campaigns here:

Your task is to analyze the purpose and potential effectiveness of the advertisement campaign, paying close attention to its strategic goal (enhance awareness, shape perceptions, encourage consistent use, etc.), its target market (who it strives to reach and influence), its content (the persuasive message), and its context (the media it appears in, the media’s target audience).

In your thesis, you should make a clear case about what the aim of the advertisement campaign was, and whether it achieved that aim through a coordinated and concerted effort in messaging and placement. You should thus consider the questions:

What was/were the strategic goal/goals of the advertisement campaign? Who is the target audience? Where was it placed? Was this effective advertisement placement? What is the message of this advertisement campaign?

Which principles of persuasion are being employed in the message? Are they are being employed successfully? What is your evidence for this? What route of persuasion (peripheral or central) is being employed? What is your evidence for this?

And at last, bringing all the pieces together, how well do you think the advertisement campaign performs in achieving its strategic goal/goals? What are the reasons? Your answer to this final question will be the starting point of your thesis and your essay as well.

Your paper should offer some answers to all these questions, but DO NOT simply answer them. These are the core questions you should contemplate. Your essay should be an argumentative and analytical piece that has a strong thesis and rich and cogent arguments supporting the thesis.

One challenge of analyzing an advertisement campaign in this way is that you must be careful of circular reasoning! Here would be an example of circular reasoning: because an advertisement appeared in a certain magazine, it was targeting the kind of people who read that magazine. Because the advertisement was targeting those people, that magazine was an ideal medium for the advertisement. Be sure that you have good (non-circular) reasoning and evidence to substantiate claims!

Another challenge of this essay is that you have to analyze rather than describe the advertisement campaign. It is easy to drift away from the core questions and aimlessly describe the campaign in general terms. You need to clearly identify the strategic goal/goals of the advertisement, and to evaluate the effectiveness of messaging and placement with regard to how they achieve/not achieve the strategic goal/goals. Furthermore, you have to work into your analysis both principles of persuasion and route of persuasion.

A third challenge of advertisement analysis is that advertising campaigns spread themselves over a variety of media today. Consider looking at the broader context of the campaign.

Throughout your essay, use class concepts—from lectures and readings—to make your case. There is an expectation that you will use at least 2 outside sources, and properly cite and reference each. Use the outside sources in the development of your arguments. Outside sources include further readings, guest lectures and other authoritative articles, but not required readings or Prof. Rojas’s lectures. In choosing the articles to help you analyze this advertisement campaign, remember: you don’t have to agree with the authors of the articles you use, but you have to show that you understand how those authors would interpret the advertisement you’ve chosen.

When you turn in your essay, include a picture of or link to the advertisement.

Media Analysis Essay – General Rules

You will write a1500-word (five-page, double-spaced) papers, tied to the class readings and each requiring some outside investigation. Even though this paper is short, it should still each have the three basic components of an academic essay:

  1. An introduction, which clearly states a thesis (please underline that thesis).
  2. A body, which develops the thesis, with one argument per paragraph, and several points ofevidence supporting each argument.
  3. A conclusion which not only restates the thesis, but leaves the reader with something more, suchas speculation on the broader implications of the thesis.

Use APA citation style throughout.

The first draft of the essay is due via by 9:55 am on DECEMBER 4. You will be assigned to peer reviews group and you should also make it available to your peer reviewers.

You will receive feedback from your TA, provide and receive peer reviews (week 15) and then submit a final version of your paper by DECEMBER 18.

Short Writing #4 Revisit your media experience with a critical eye

This short writing assignment is due Week 10 in section. (So November 7-10 depending on when your section meets.) This writing assignment should conform to the normal guidelines for short writings: 500 words, posted to, APA style.

In Weeks 6, 7 and 8 we focused on some of the major issues faced by journalists. In this short writing assignment, you will return to your own media experience—but this time with a more critical eye as well as a better understanding of a journalist’s role. How do we evaluate news content, perspectives in media, possible biases, and ultimately truth and accuracy?

Specifically, consider your daily experience of selecting and processing information with a focus on two things:

  • How do you decide what is relevant?That is, of all the information options presented to you in a day, which do you choose to allocate your attention to, and which do you discard out of hand? It is helpful to think concretely about this. For instance, when you are scrolling through your Facebook feed, which posts do you actually click on, repost, or like? What is your reasoning process for doing that?
  • How do you decide what is true?In addition to sorting out things that interest you from those you just let pass by, you have to make many choices about what you believe. Well, how do you do that? What is it about the information that makes you believe it? Think about all the cues of such information—its author, the person who shared it, the amount it has been shared, and others—which of these are the most compelling signal of truthfulness to you?

In your short essay, reflect on your media experiences with these two information-processing tasks in mind. What rules or clues do you find yourself using when you encounter and process information? This makes it much less of a descriptive overview—which is what Short Writing #1 was—and more of a careful analysis of your own processes of thinking.


Dear students,

You are invited to participate in a research study about how people evaluate political memes. If you decide to participate, you will view several political memes and answer questions regarding the memes you saw, and complete demographic questions.
You can earn extra credit points in J201 in exchange for your participation. This study should take about 20 minutes to complete. The alternative assignment for those who do not wish to participate in this research study but still want to receive credit will be attending a research presentation about the results of the study.
To participate, click on the link below.
Hyungjin Gill (
Moonhoon Choi (
Michael Wagner (

Extra credit #3

Dear J201 students,
Here’s another opportunity for you to earn .5 points of extra credit for J201. You are invited to participate in an online study. The purpose of the study is to examine what people learn from reading news editorials. Your participation in this study will involve reading a news editorial and answering related questions.
This study can be completed online and may be taken on any computer with an Internet connection at a time and location of your convenience. We expect your participation to last less than 20 minutes. This study will be open until 11:59pm Sunday, Oct. 24.
In order to participate in this research study, you need to be at least 18 years old. Your participation is completely voluntary. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the researcher, Douglas McLeod at
If you would like to receive extra credit, but do not want to participate in the study, you may attend an alternate lecture about the study on Nov 3, 12pm-1pm, Vilas 5157. Please note that you cannot receive credit for both—you will get a maximum of .5 points for participating in this study or attending the alternative lecture.
To participate in the online study, simply click on the following link and follow the directions:
Thank you in advance for your help with our study.

FAQ media analysis essay#1

1. Could you explain the main question we have to answer for Essay #1 in further detail?
The assignment is asking whether you think U.S. media are biased or people’s perception is biased, with hostile media phenomenon theory as the underlying framework. So it is basically asking whether you think hostile media phenomenon holds as an appropriate explanation (in which case you’d be arguing that U.S. media are NOT biased, or at least are NOT biased to the extent that it is perceived now, and it is the people’s PERCEPTION about the media that is biased) or not (in which case you’d be arguing that U.S. MEDIA are ACTUALLY biased and NOT necessarily people’s PERCEPTION about the media that is biased).
One precaution is that, this assignment is NOT A NEWS ANALYSIS assignment: you’re not doing content analysis of the actual news articles to make a case of whether or not media are biased. You’re evaluating (and using) the interview data and authoritative sources as the major supporting evidence for your argument about the hostile media phenomenon.

2. What if I don’t have any friends with strong liberal or conservative political ideologies?
The interviewees don’t necessarily have to be friends. You can interview relatives, family members, and acquaintances over the phone too (just remember to keep good notes). If you still can’t think of anyone in your larger network, pick the MOST liberal and conservative people you can find. We’re not looking for ‘objectively’ strong liberals or conservatives.

3.  Is the first draft part of the final grade for Essay #1?
Yes. Both the first and final drafts of Media Analysis Essays are evaluated, though you won’t receive a letter grade or points for the first draft. Therefore, the first draft should technically be your ‘best’ draft at the time you submit it. The letter grade and points will be given after the final draft has been graded.

4. But how is the first draft taken into consideration in the grading process? 
We take a holistic approach, to grade the whole writing process from the first to final draft. While your first draft would be the best draft you’ve written at the time of submission, we look at how much revision or improvement you made for your actual final draft. So even if your first draft turns out great, the final grade could be modest, depending on how much substantial revision you make for your final draft. On the other hand, even if your first draft turns out weaker than had expected, your final grade can be as high as (or even higher than) someone with an excellent first draft, but with almost no revision, if you make substantial revision/improvement for your final draft. But of course, a high-A essay would be one that was both quite strong for first draft and has improved even further for the final one.

5. How do I access the journal articles provided for the essay?
If you are accessing them via computers on the campus, the article links should lead you directly to the sources without problem. But if you’re accessing them from off campus, please refer to this document LibrarySearch_AuthSource_2017F.

Extra credit #2

Dear students,
You are invited to participate in an online study about mobile gaming. A research group in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is conducting this study about students’ interest in mobile gaming. Your participation in this study will involve you filling out an online questionnaire. Your course instructor will grant extra credit for your participation.
In total, we expect your participation to take approximately 20 minutes. To receive extra credit, you will need to complete this study before midnight on October 15, 2017. You can participate in this study from any computer equipped with a web browser (e.g., Google Chrome, Internet Explorer) and a high-seped Internet connection. You can also complete the survey on a mobile device.
To participate in the online study, simply click on the following link and follow the directions:
If you experience any difficulties, please do not contact your professor or TA. Instead, contact Professor Karyn Riddle (
Thank you in advance for your help with this study,


Karyn Riddle
Associate Professor
Robert Taylor Professorship in Strategic Communication
School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Media Analysis Essay 1: Relating political ideology to perceptions of media

We have explored several perspectives on how media impact our experiences and perceptions of the world. In this assignment, you will conduct some interviews in which you apply some of those ideas to observations of media effects.

For this assignment, we want you to interview two people that you know. The idea is that you select the most liberal person that you know and the most conservative person that you know.

Once you have selected these two people, we want you to interview them and ask them questions pertaining the following topics:

  1. News consumption. What news outlets do they prefer? How regularly do they get news from their preferred sources? Which news outlets do they dislike? Why do they favor some over others? In a slightly different vein, how much news do they get from people in their social networks? Do they find the news forwarded to them by those people to be useful?
  2. Political ideology. Ask them to explain to you some of their positions on political issues. What political parties or groups do they like and dislike. Why?
  3. Media bias. Ask them about possible media bias in the United States? If they think the media are indeed biased, in what direction? What evidence can they provide you of this bias they perceive? Remember to bring up the media they mentioned in topic 1: Are these also biased? Why or why not? Do they think media bias is inevitable and necessary, or do they think media neutrality is attainable, desired and materialized in some outlets?

This list of questions is illustrative of the type of questions you can ask, but feel free to go beyond these questions to add your own.

Some rules for the interviews:

  1. For this assignment you cannot interview other J201 students.
  2. You will identify your interviewees in the essay and tell us how they are related to you.
  3. Take careful notes, or record your interviews. Submit your notes or interview transcripts as an appendix to your assignment.

Once you have completed your interviews, we want you to revisit the materials discussed in class regarding the hostile media perception. Go over your class notes readings, then we invite you to do some additional research on possible media bias and the hostile media phenomenon.

Some additional sources that you might find useful include:

1) Pew Research Center

  1. Pew Research Center

3) Media bias in presidential elections: a meta-analysis

4) Elite Cues and Media Bias in Presidential Campaigns

5) What Media Bias?

(The statistics in some of these articles are complex, but focus on the findings rather than on the tests).

Now you are ready to start writing your first Media Analysis Essay!

Your job is to use course concepts (hostile media phenomenon, biased public, relative hostile media) and at least two authoritative sources (from the additional readings suggested above, or others your find on your own) to answer the following big question: Are media in the United States politically biased, or is it that the public perceives them as biased?

Start by stating your thesis. Then explain what you mean by political bias and how you’re defining the media, and move on to develop the arguments that support your thesis. Use your interviews, alongside the research material, to support your arguments regarding the public’s perception of media. Finalize with your conclusion on the big question posed and elaborating on the implications for society of your conclusions.

Use the interviews to support arguments you are making about perceptions of media content. Use studies that actually study content to support arguments about actual bias in media.

Media Analysis Essay – General Rules

You will write a1500-word (five-page, double-spaced) papers, tied to the class readings and requiring some outside investigation. This paper should still have the three basic components of an academic essay:

  1. An introduction, which clearly states a thesis (please underline that thesis).
  2. A body, which develops the thesis, with one argument per paragraph, and several points of evidence supporting each argument.
  3. A conclusion which not only restates the thesis, but leaves the reader with something more, such as speculation on the broader implications of the thesis.

Use APA citation style throughout.

The first draft of the essay is due via by 9:55 a.m., OCTOBER 25. Before this time, you should also email it to the peer reviewers assigned to you by your TA.

You will receive feedback from your TA, provide and receive peer reviews during Week 9, and then submit via a final version of your paper by 9:55 a.m., NOVEMBER 10.