Media Analysis Essay #1

What makes for good journalism? The past two weeks, we have been considering what is most important in the practice of journalism. In media analysis essay #1, you will be applying course concepts in an evaluation of recent reporting on a major story.

Below are several stories that have developed recently. Your job is to choose one of these stories and examine how two news outlets have covered it. You can find a list of major news outlets you might choose from below. If you want to consider an outlet not in that list, check with your TA—we want to make sure students choose outlets that will make for good comparisons.

Keep in mind that a “news story” is rarely confined to a single article. Especially from large, national outlets, you are likely to see news articles, columns, editorials, letters, and possibly other content about the story. (Being smart about using searches on the relevant websites will help you identify the set of pieces that have been published on the story. You may also need to subscribe, for a short time, to the outlets to use all of their content.)

You will need to read all of these to assess the outlets’ coverage of the story.

Then you need to decide which outlet, on the whole, covered the story better. This means considering the many purposes and practices of journalism, which we have been learning about in lecture and readings, from the general functions of journalism in a democratic society to specific journalistic principles outlined by news organizations (listed below). It also means keeping in mind that each individual article or column may fulfill some of those purposes more than others. Keep in mind what kind of coverage each piece you are reading is: is it a straight news report? An opinion column? A letter to the editor? How might each of these contribute to the overall quality of an outlet’s coverage?

In your essay, make your case about which outlet covered the story better. You should include some description of each outlet’s coverage, and connect what you saw to course concepts. You should also make a case for why the criteria you use to choose the better story matter—why are those particular course concepts important to you? Put another way, what elements are most important in making good news?

Besides class concepts from lectures and required readings, you are also expected to cite at least 2 outside sources . Outside sources include further readings, guest lectures and other authoritative articles.

Your essay should be about 1500 words, uploaded to turnitin by 5:00pm on Friday, February 24. Be sure to refer to the essay guidelines found at https://201.journalism.wisc.edu/media-analysis-essays/, including an introduction paragraph that contains your thesis (and underline that thesis statement), a body including paragraphs with good topic sentences and supporting evidence, and a conclusion that sums up your essay and also considers the broader implications of what you found.

News Story Topics:

Milo Yiannopoulos’ talk canceled at University of California-Berkeley: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/01/latest-milo-yiannopoulos-berkeley-talk-canceled.html

American Special Forces raid in Yemen: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/317605-white-house-offers-timeline-on-deadly-raid-in-yemen

Implementation of Trump’s executive order on immigration halted by federal judge; appeals are in process: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/politics/federal-judge-temporarily-halts-trump-travel-ban-nationwide-ag-says/

Functions and Principles of Journalism:

Functions of journalism in a democratic society  Practices of American journalism     
To inform the public

To investigate issues & problems

To offer analysis

To empathize

To be a public forum

To mobilize citizens

 

Objectivity

Balance

Fairness

Accuracy/Verification

Independence

Context

Transparency

Relevance and engagement

Holding power accountable

Major News Outlets:

  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Huffington post
  • Politico
  • ABC News
  • NBC News
  • CBS News
  • CNN
  • NPR
  • Guardian
  • BBC