Your task is to write a comparative analysis of the media reporting on a specific incident or issue relating to religion. Provide clippings/print-outs of news articles about one particular incident or issue from at least two different media sources. Use secular media sources (no more than one of your sources can be from an explicitly religious or denominational media source). Use news articles, not opinion pieces or editorials. Make sure that the news articles were published on the same day or within a day of each other, and within the last six months.
Write a detailed analysis of the coverage of the incident, using the following questions to focus on the similarities and differences between the different sources:
A. Close Reading:
(1) COVERAGE: How prominent is the coverage? (In a newspaper, on what page does the article appear, and how large is it and its headline? On an internet site, does anything make the article stand out or easy to find? How many comments, Facebook recommendations, tweets or links to other articles does it have?) Does the coverage attract your attention? How?
(2) FIRST IMPRESSIONS: What impressions do the headline and first paragraph give? How do they define the situation? Are photographs or other illustrations used? Do they give a positive or negative impression of their subject? How? Give examples.
(3) LANGUAGE: Which words or phrases are used repeatedly or are given emphasis? Are name-calling or stereotypes used? Are broad generalizations used or did the writer qualify his/her observations? What is the general tone of the coverage? Give examples.
(4) CREDENTIALS: Who is the author? What makes the author an authority on the issue?
(5) SOURCES: Is it possible to identify the sources of information used in the news article? Are these sources reliable? How can you tell? Can you differentiate between facts and opinions in the coverage? Give examples.
(6) POINT OF VIEW: What point of view is being promoted? Who are the "good guys" and "bad guys" in the reporting? What emotions does the coverage stir up? Give examples.
(7) PURPOSE: What is the main purpose of the article? Is it to persuade, inform, entertain or to sell something?
(8) CONSTRAINTS: What constraints of the news media business (economic, political, etc) may have influenced the form and/or content of the coverage? How?
(9) IMPACT: What general attitude toward religion in general, or toward a particular religious tradition, does the coverage arouse?
The simplest way to do the assignment is to use, or at least start with, a recent news article. Then find another article about the same incident or issue in a different news source. Internet searches make this relatively simple; you can also use the online newspaper databases which you can access through the University of Regina (ask a librarian for help if necessary).
The point of the assignment is not primarily to describe information on some religious topic of interest; rather, the point is to compare and contrast current media reporting on a single incident or issue having to do with religion, and to see whether the same or different perspectives are revealed. Therefore, it is important that the two articles you use were published on the same day, or within a day of each other). They should also be recent (i.e. within the past 6 months).
Analyze each article by comparing it with the second article using the questions in each area of the assignment. For example, describe and compare the “Coverage” of both articles, then the “First Impressions” of both articles, then the “Language” of both articles, and so forth. Do not analyze one entire article all by itself and then move on to analyze the next article separately.
There are no right or wrong answers to the questions. However, the questions need to be taken seriously to guide your in-depth critical thinking about the way in which religion is reported. Put aside your own opinions or convictions about the incident or issue at hand, and attend carefully to the way each article speaks about the incident or issue.
About “Constraints”: Media sources, such as newspapers, are businesses – that is, they ultimately operate in order to make money for their owners/investors, and therefore are going to try to do what helps them sell the most newspapers or views. This economic constraint might affect whether and how a news source tries to report the truth. Other constraints might be more political in nature. News sources often align themselves with certain political parties or ideologies, which may affect what they choose to report and how they report it. In some countries, newspapers and other media outlets might operate under conditions of formal or informal censorship. Use a simple internet search to check out where a news source is published and whether it has a particular ideological perspective and/or connections with political parties or religious/anti-religious groups, etc.
Please attach the evaluation form that follows on the next page to your analysis when you submit this assignment. Your Media Analysis Assignment will be evaluated using this form. In order to ensure your best chance at a good mark, make sure that your analysis satisfies all of the criteria outlined in the form. The criteria will be further explained in class (if necessary). Again, please remember to attach this form to your media analysis. It will be returned to you with your assignment.
· Also attach the clippings or printouts of the news articles you are analyzing.
· Follow the instructions for written work in the course syllabus. Please double- space.