Category Archives: general

Short Essay #4

DUE on Thursday, May 3rd by midnight to Turnitin

Choose any political campaign TV ad from the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. You can pick from the primaries or the general election.  We recommend YouTube searches to find examples.

Write a 500-600 word essay that makes any strategic-communication-related argument about the ad that incorporates course concepts and readings. We’ve purposely left this vague: You’ll want to demonstrate that you can analyze a TV ad but more importantly, that you can come up with your own creative approach to writing an essay, which includes a thesis and supporting evidence. Think about the evidence you might draw on from all course material. Think about the judgment you’ve developed over the last five papers in terms of what makes a good essay with a strong thesis. Then trust your judgment!


  • 500-600 words
  • Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced
  • A title
  • A clearly stated thesis that is underlined in your text
  • Evidence to support your thesis
  • At least two sources (readings or lectures)
  • APA style for in-text citations and reference list
  • A heading that is formatted like this at the top-left of your paper and has all the same components:

Annie McStudent
J201 – Section 307
February 22, 2018
Word Count: 565

Extra credit opportunity 10

Dear J201 Students,
You are invited to participate in a survey asking motivation and online groups or communities.
It will take about 10-15 minutes and will earn you 0.5 extra credit. This survey will be open until April 19th.
You can participate in this survey from any of your mobile device or computers by clicking the link below :
All the information you provide will be confidential. If you have any questions regarding this study, please contact Ryan Bower,
Thank you for your participation!


FAQ – Research paper #2

Please make sure you also read the original assignment sheet carefully, since that should be able to answer most questions. Good luck!

  1. How should I cite a magazine advertisement in APA format?

Here is what you will do when you want to cite a magazine ad in the text:
1. Start with the name of the company, followed by a period.
2. List the year and month in parentheses, followed by a period. Place a comma in between the year and month (provide day if known).
3. Provide the title of the advertisement. Place the term “Advertisement” in brackets before the period.
4. List the name of the magazine in italics, followed by volume number and issue number (the volume number should be italicized, and the issue number should appear in parentheses).
5. End your citation with the page number followed by a period.

Here is what you will do when you want to cite a magazine ad in the reference page:
For in-text citation, include the name of the company and year in parenthesis. Separate these elements with commas.


a) Advertisements in print from a magazine with known title
Name of Company That Owns the Product. (Year, Month Day of issue which contains the advertisement). Title of advertisement [Advertisement]. Magazine, Volume(Issue) if known, page number advertisement is found on.

In-text: (BMW, 2011)
References: BMW. (2011, June 4). Diesel reinvented [Advertisement]. Fictional Magazine, 7(1), 17.

b) Advertisements in print from a magazine without title
Name of Company That Owns the Product. (Year, Month Day of issue which contains advertisement). [Advertisement for Name of Product being advertised]. Magazine, Volume(Issue) if known, page number advertisement is found on.

In-text: (FedEx, 2011)
References: FedEx. (2011, May). [Advertisement for FedExCup]. Sample Magazine, 5(1), 30.


2.  What is a media kit? How should I cite media kits?
A media kit is a document that provides advertisers and advertising agencies with information on a magazine’s readership, advertising rates, editorial policy, and production requirements. It is designed to convince advertisers that a magazine represents the most cost-effective medium for communicating with a specific target audience. For your research paper, you might want to look at the media kit of the magazine in which your ad appears for information such as circulation statistics and readers profiles. This can help you decide whether the magazine is the smart placement decision given the ad’s strategic goals and target audience.

The APA Style recommends citing media kits as a website with a corporate author.

In-Text: (Name of Company, Year)

Reference: Name of Company. (Year). Title of document. Retrieved from URL [Retrieval Date].

Here are some examples:

In-text: (Jetstar, 2017)
Reference: Jetstar (2017). Media Kit 2017. Retrieved from [Accessed 5 April. 2018].

In-text: (National Geographic Magazine, 2018)
Reference: National Geographic Magazine (2018). Media Kit 2018. Retrieved from [Accessed 5 April. 2018].


3. Can I pick an ad from any year?
The answer is yes! But picking an older ad would require some more historical research.  For example, you might want to consider the different media environment, both in terms of professional norms or technological conditions, in which advertising professionals operated.

4. Can the ad be an online image?
We don’t recommend it. You need to know what magazine the ad came from, and that’s often difficult to tell online. Ideally, you’d also know if this was a prominently placed ad (for instance, the back cover), since that might guide your research. But if you can find out the magazine, the issue date, and the placement online, we won’t ever know the difference.

Extra credit opportunity 9

Dear Students:

You have received an opportunity to participate in a research study in exchange for 0.5 extra credit in J201. If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete a survey about media and language. This survey will take you about 20-25 minutes to complete. You will be asked to watch a video, possibly reading some comments, do a word-completion task, and answer questions about your media exposure habits and your reactions to some daily situations. 

 If you wish to participate, please go to the questionnaire at the link below:

The deadline of completing this survey is April 13th by 11:59 p.m. If you have any questions about the survey, please email Hannah Monroe at, Gaofei Li at, or Professor Hernando Rojas at

Thank you.

Research Paper #2

Research Paper #2: Advertising Analysis

DESCRIPTION: For this assignment, you’ll select a print advertisement. We highly recommend full-page advertisements in print magazines, but other print ads can work as well. (Don’t use an online ad.)

Your task is to assess the effectiveness of the advertisement, paying close attention to its likely purpose, its context (the media product it appears in), its content, and its likely target market.

You should make a case about what the aim of the ad was, and whether it achieved that aim.

One challenge of advertisement analysis today is that advertising campaigns are spread over a variety of media. Consider looking at the broader context of the campaign of which your ad was a part; you might mention how your ad was like, or unlike, others in the campaign in your essay.

In your analysis, use at least two outside, authoritative sources in the development of your argument. (Apart from lectures and required readings, especially from Week 11, which you’ll also use.)  In choosing the articles to help you analyze this ad, 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. For help finding journal articles, please see our Writing Resources page.


  • 1400-1600 words
  • Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced
  • A title
  • A clearly stated thesis that is underlined in your text
  • Evidence to support your thesis
  • APA style for in-text citations and reference list
  • Include the ad you’ve selected as an appendix to your paper. You can scan it, take a photo, use an app like Turboscan to digitize it, or search for a digital version. If color plays an important part in the ad, make sure your TA has a color version.
  • At least two outside, authoritative sources (outside, meaning in addition to readings and lectures from class; authoritative, meaning scholarly, so a media kit isn’t one of your two — see our Writing Resources page for help with this)
  • A heading that is formatted like this at the top-left of your paper and has all the same components:

Annie McStudent
J201 – Section 307
February 22, 2018
Word Count: 1565

DEADLINES: First draft is due to Turnitin and to your peer reviewers by email on Thursday, April 12 by midnight. (Depending on the size of your section, these will be different peers than those you had for your first research paper. Your TA will assign them sometime before April 12.)

Final draft is due to Turnitin on Thursday, April 26 by midnight.

DETAILS: To make your case, consider these questions:

  •  What was the ad’s intended function? Why do you think this?
    • This will require a little bit of detective work: consider thinking about the nature of the product being advertised, and whom the marketers might be trying to reach.
  • How well does the ad perform that function? What is your evidence for this?
  • Where was it placed? Why was it placed there? (To learn about the magazine the ad appeared in, look for the magazine’s media kit, which will contain information about the audience of the magazine.)
  • What principles of persuasion were utilized in the ad? What might be the effects on the audience? (Be sure to use lecture content from April 6).
  • Would you say that this ad addresses some of the challenges that strategic communicators and marketing professionals are facing today? (Professor Douglas McLeod’s guest lecture on April 2 might be very relevant here)

HONORS STUDENTS: If you are taking this course for honors (you’d know if you were and you’ve already completed library training), you have a different assignment sheet that you got via email from me and that we discussed. Don’t do this assignment!

IMPT: Midterm on Wed. 3/21

Point breakdown:

  • Multiple choice: 12 questions, 0.75 point each = 9 points
  • IDs: 3 terms (out of 5 options), 2 points each = 6 points
  • Total: 15 points

Class, as we’ve discussed, the midterm is now on Wednesday, March 21st at 9:55am in Humanities 3650 — our regular lecture time and regular lecture room. This is also reflected on the corrected syllabus. (Too many of you were already going to be gone for spring break, which means also no lecture on Friday 3/23; no sections that week.)

Absolutely no makeups for unexcused absences.

I’m still hearing from people who think the midterm is on that Friday. If you think you know someone like that, please, please help them out!

We’ll have an optional review session Monday, March 19th from 6-7 p.m. in Humanities 3650. We’ve reserved the room for you until 8 p.m. if you’d like to stay and continue to study and exchange notes.

Instructions Below are only for Students with McBurney Visas

If you have a McBurney Visa that affects testing, please make sure you do the following by Tuesday, March 13th at 4 p.m.:

1. Go to this page to register for accommodated exam service (You will need to log in with your netID to register)

  1. As you register, you’ll need the following information
  • Instructor information:
    • First Name – Kathryn
    • Last Name – McGarr
    • NetID – kmcgarr
  • Exam information
    • Course: J201 Introduction to Mass Communication
    • Date: March, 21, 2018
    • Time (Please choose a start time between 9:05 – 9:55 a.m., depending on your accommodation and your schedule before and after the exam)
    • Duration: In accordance with your accommodation
  1. To have your request approved, if you haven’t given a copy of your VISA to either professor McGarr or your TA, please send it to msu26@wisc,edu.

Extra credit opportunity 8

Hi students,

You are invited to participate in an online study testing an online database. Our team of researchers is evaluating a database on climate change related issues prior to its launch. We are interested in getting feedback on what specific information or topics should be included in the database, based on people’s interests and opinions. And you could help us! 

And participation in this study will involve viewing some sample content in the database and filling out an online questionnaire. In total, we expect your participation to take approximately 15 minutes.

If you complete the study, your course instructor will grant 0.5 percentage points that will be added to your final score for your participation. To receive the extra credit, you will need to complete this study before March 26th , 2018.

You can participate in this study from any computer equipped with a Web browser (e.g., Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox) and a high-speed Internet connection.

To participate in the online study, simply click on the following link and follow the directions:

Once you complete the survey, you can enter your name to receive the extra credit.  All the information you provide will be kept confidential.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Ran Tao at .Thank you in advance for your help with the study! 

Principal researcher, Ran Tao

Short Essay #3

Short Essay #3: Hostile Media Phenomenon

DUE: On Thursday, March 22nd by midnight to Turnitin (NOTE: This is a week later than it says on your syllabus. You will be able to turn in the assignment starting March 15th, the original due date, if you want to get it out of the way before the midterm. But everyone has been working so hard on their research papers, take the extra week if you want it!)


In this assignment, you’ll run your own (slightly unscientific) experiment to test the hostile media phenomenon. You will be interviewing two people–someone who is against immigration restriction and someone who is for immigration restriction–after having them read this article:DACA_NewsArticle. It’s formatted so you can send it to your subjects as a Word document with nothing to identify its source and with the British spellings eliminated. Do identify it as a published news article.

If you’d like to see the original article yourself, it’s from the BBC and is here:

The interviewees cannot be other students in 201 and should live in the U.S.


Your essay will be divided into three labeled sections that look like this:

I. Hypothesis  (100-150 words)

Before you conduct interviews, form a hypothesis. That is, based on the hostile media phenomenon, what do you think the pro-immigration restriction person will say? What do you think the anti-immigration person will say? Make sure you define hostile media phenomenon in your answer and cite the readings from Week 6 as necessary.

II. Method  (100-150 words)

For everyone, the general method will be the same:

  1. Choose subjects, having ascertained the views of your subjects on immigration restriction. (If you don’t know anyone who feels strongly about it, you can interview subjects with more moderate opinions, but the stronger they feel, the more likely your results will be interesting.)
  2. Tell them you are conducting an interview on media bias.
  3. Ask your subjects to read the article.
  4. Then ask them how they would rate the article, on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the article shows great bias against restriction (in other words, pro-Daca); 5 is the article is perfectly neutral on immigration; and 10 shows great bias for restriction (anti-Daca). For example: if someone who is against immigration restriction thinks the article is also pro-Daca, they might rate the article 0 through 4 depending on how biased in their favor they find it; if that person thinks it’s perfectly neutral, they would rate a 5; if that person thinks the article is biased against their own views and towards immigration restriction (anti-Daca), they would pick between 6 and 10.
  5. After that, ask whatever follow-up questions might help you better understand their reasoning. You might choose to discuss hostile media phenomenon, but only after they have finished rating the article.

Because everyone has the same general method, in this Method section, state how you chose your interview subjects, their names, what their relationship is to you, and include any pertinent information on how you conducted your interviews (phone or in-person) and decided on follow-up questions.

You may record your interviews if your subjects give you permission and if you think it will help, but it’s not a requirement of the assignment.

III. Interpretation (300-350 words)

Explain the results of your experiment. Was your hypothesis correct? Include a description of important takeaways from your interviews, paraphrasing those interviews and using quotes sparingly, as you did in short essay #1.

Be creative! You could analyze your results further, suggest an area of possible future research, point out any issues with method, perhaps address your own bias.


  • See Week 6 readings and lecture notes from a review we’ll have Monday, March 12.
  • 500-650 words
  • Those 3 sections just described above, with section headings
  • Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced
  • A title
  • APA style for in-text citations and reference list
  • A heading that is formatted like this at the top-left of your paper and has all the same components:

Annie McStudent
J201 – Section 307
February 22, 2018
Word Count: 539

Extra credit opportunity 6

Dear Students,
We are a group of graduate student researchers at School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Wisconsin-Madison. We are interested in learning how UW-college students learn about the scientific facts related to their daily lives on campus. As such, I am writing to ask for your participation in a survey. The purpose of this survey is to improve college students’ skills to detect correct scientific information online and improve their knowledge.
This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.  To thank you for your time all of those who complete the survey will be able to earn 0.5 extra credit for your course that directs you to this study. All data collected from this survey will be confidential. In the end of the survey, you will be required to enter your name, course number and your NetID, but we will not access your individual responses.
The survey will be open from March 8, 2018 through March 31, 2018. Feel free to direct your questions to or Please find the direct link to the survey here:
Thank you for your participation.


Winnie (Yin) Wu

Doctoral Student

School of Journalism and Mass Communication

University of Wisconsin-Madison