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 http://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/

  1. Pew Research Center http://www.journalism.org/2017/05/10/americans-attitudes-about-the-news-media-deeply-divided-along-partisan-lines/pj_2017-05-10_media-attitudes_a-07/

3) Media bias in presidential elections: a meta-analysis http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02866.x/abstract

4) Elite Cues and Media Bias in Presidential Campaigns http://crx.sagepub.com/content/26/2/144.short

5) What Media Bias? http://hij.sagepub.com/content/12/1/17.short

(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 Turnitin.com 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 Turnitin.com a final version of your paper by 9:55 a.m., NOVEMBER 10.