American Government Interactive Assignment
How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda
Only a small number of citizens are skilled in recognizing bias and propaganda in the news disseminated in their country. Only a relatively few are able to detect one-sided portrayals of events or seek out alternative sources of information and opinion the over-whelming majority of people in the world, untrained in critical thinking, are at the mercy of the news media in their country (The Foundation for Critical Thinking).
Most major news channels present biased information and even go as far as to present fact-less even untruthful information. In response, there is a growing number of hoaxster websites that purposely present information that is not based on any known facts but tend to rely on conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, most Americans rely on the news to learn about political events and either believe the story or do not bother to check the information against other reports. This perpetuates political spin, leaving many Americans to wallow in a political echo chamber and this impacts our political process. There seems to be a correlation between news media bias and a trend towards polarization. Americans and their elected officials are moving further left or further right such that middle-ground politics and policies that rely on compromise cannot be reached.
The main purpose of this assignment is to increase your awareness of news media bias, to learn to fact check and to analyze how this affects you and our democratic political process. In this assignment you will learn to be a critical reader/listener. You will then apply this skill to expose biases and untruthful information and then analyze the short and long term affects your findings will have on our democratic political process.
This written assignment must be typed and saved as a Word document (.doc or .docx). It should be 5-7 pages, double-spaced, one inch margins, 12 pt. font. No Cover Page is necessary, but parenthetical in-text citation and a Works Cited page (MLA format) are required. Be sure to include your Works Cited IN YOUR assignment document file. To learn more about citation, use the Purdue Owl website and avoid plagiarism: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/ (Links to an external site.) .
CHOOSING MEDIA SOURCES
News media bias is most profound when news media sources take on very specific political perspectives. Yet, most Americans choose only news media sources that match their own political perspective. This creates what many call the echo chamber. For this assignment, you must choose two news media sources with very different perspectives. There are several political perspectives; the two most common are conservative (right leaning) and liberal (left leaning). It is up to you to figure out the political perspective of the sources you are considering. (Here are some links to help get you started: http://www.allsides.com/about-bias (Links to an external site.);
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/10/21/lets-rank-the-media-from-liberal-to-conservative-based-on-their-audiences/?utm_term=.551a19b03773 (Links to an external site.)
There are several formats from which to choose your sources; these include print (newspaper, magazine), radio, television and the internet. You may choose your sources from any combination of these formats (i.e. two internet sources OR one television source and one internet source).
CHOOSING YOUR TOPIC
You must choose one topic from the list below. You will then search your two news media sources for this topic. You may need to further narrow your topic so that both of your news media sources are discussing an important element of the topic (i.e. Gun Control might be narrowed down to background checks for gun licenses). These topics are current, so be sure to find recent information presented by your two news media sources (within the last six months). Choose ONE article/broadcast from EACH source (TWO in total).
Pre-emptive Strike (and/or Drone Strikes)
The National Budget/Debt
Irans Nuclear Program
Legalization of Marijuana
Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare)
If you have a different topic in mind, email me.
You will then critically analyze, by comparing and contrasting, how your two news media sources relay the information concerning the topic you have chosen. You MUST use this site to help explain main areas of analysis/BIAS http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/types-of-media-bias/ (Links to an external site.). Choose a MINIMUM of 3 main points of bias from this site and use these to develop an in-depth analysis of just how biased your sources are and how these biases affect you AND our political process. Support these points! When looking for specific examples to support your points, look for both verbal and non-verbal clues. Look at the visuals, the headlines, catchy or loaded words/phrases, placement of article, whether each side (or various sides) are discussed, look at the length devoted to each side. Look to see if names, events, places, organizations, etc. are explained in depth (i.e. is there enough background information to understand the topic). Re-read or re-listen to the articles/broadcasts/websites. Look for even the most subtle factors that might affect the reader/listener. The deeper your analysis, the better it will become (and the higher your grade!).
Check your two news sources for a variety of points each presents as truthful or as fact. The obvious examples include actual numbers, but these can also be embedded into sentences and/or assumed. They can appear as though they are supporting major points or they can appear as the major points themselves. You will need to again critically listen to/read your two news media sources used above and find at least two facts or truths from each of your news media sources. You will then need to try to fact-check these! This isnt easily done, so take your time and state whether each fact is true, mostly true, mostly false, or false. You must support this with some credible evidence. A major part of this assignment is to have you search and find credible sources.
Remember that this paper is an analysis. As such, you must present your findings and then use them to analyze our political process. Without this important analysis, your paper is incomplete! With your findings (biases, fact-checking), examine both the short and long term effects on our political system. Be sure that your concluding analysis (more than one paragraph) goes beyond the obvious (i.e. “all news media is biased”). You might start by summarizing your findings (discuss and explain whether or not the reader/listener could make a rational decision after reading/listening to both of these articles/broadcasts). But you MUST also bring in information you have learned about our political process AND examine how your findings uncover the relationship between news media and our political process. Be specific by making a few points and support each point with a thorough explanation.
For example, examine what part the media plays in polarization? Examine how polarization affects our process and analyze if polarization enhances our political process (i.e. political candidates, voting) or not.
HINTS FOR WRITING YOUR ASSIGNMENT
Your assignment should be well-constructed, should support a strong thesis and should logically lead to your conclusion
Your assignment should begin with an introduction that states your topic, news media choices and your thesis. This introduction should be clear and concise, but no longer than 1 paragraph.
The body of your assignment should be an analysis constructed around
the 3 or more points (biases) you have chosen to use to analyze your sources. Be sure that you
introduce the main point, (i.e. “bias by omission”)
explain it in your own words, (“bias by omission means that……”)
support it with specific examples from BOTH of your news media sources (cite your sources)
and explain how/why the source is biased and how it affects the reader/listener.
Be sure to use (and quote/cite) specific examples from your news media sources to support your points of analysis. You should not use any additional sources or your own opinion for this portion of your paper.
the two facts/truths you fact-checked. Be sure that you
state the fact/truth you fact-checked and in which source you found it
state what source(s) you used to fact-check and why these sources
rate the fact/truth as true, mostly true, mostly false, or false.
The concluding paragraphs should be your examination of your findings. Be sure that you
Provide a few points and
Provide an in-depth explanation of each of your points.
Remember to properly submit your assignment by NOON on the due date.
LATE Interactive Assignments ARE NOT ACCEPTED WITHOUT A DOCUMENTED EXCUSE
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