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 turnitin.com, 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.