Unit #3: Analysis of Media Coverage


Unit #3:  Analysis of Media Coverage: Deaths of Irish Students in Berkley Balcony Collapse Cast Pall on Program

Length:  Approximately 4 – 5 pages 

Now that we have practiced analyzing news articles for bias as a class, it is time to practice this skill on your own.  Pick a topic that you are interested in in the news – you can choose from the topics on Moodle or find your own.  Read at least three to four articles about this topic to see the various ways that this topic can be covered.  As you read, notice the choices that the authors / news sources are making in terms of headlines, photos, captions, organization of information, sources used, etc. and how these may impact the reader differently.

Pick one article that you feel has potential bias in it due to the choices that the author / news source has made. The article should be relatively lengthy and have more than one form of bias to examine. Note:  The article cannot be an opinion piece.   

Your Task:  In a full essay, analyze the choices the author makes in the article (headline, sources, etc.), whether these choices show potential bias, and how these choices affect the reader’s experience.  Use specific examples from the article to support the points that you are making about the author’s choices.  Be sure to come to an overall assessment of how objective or biased you feel the article ultimately is.

Below are a few areas in which the author’s choices can create bias.  Refer to the reader for more:

  • Initial Impact: Do the photos and/or headlines affect one’s reading of the article?  If so, how?
  • Selection and Omission: Is there sufficient context to understand the issue? Does the background information and evidence in the article seem complete or is there information that is not included? Does the evidence seem unbalanced, misleading, or out of context? How does this impact the reader’s experience?  Note:  You may need to look to other similar articles for comparison.
  • Loaded Language: Does the article include “loaded” language?  Does the author use words that convey strong emotional meaning, that are not “neutral”?  How does this impact the reader’s experience?
  • Sources: Are the sources credible?  Is there a fair balance of sources used? Are the sources on one side of the issue more credible than those used for the others?  Whose voices are included and whose are left out?  How does this impact the reader’s experience?
  • Order: Does the order of the information presented in the story affect the story’s impact on the reader?  Imagine cutting the article apart and putting it back together – does the rearrangement of sources impact the reader’s experience?

Note:  If you choose an article that is not from Moodle, get instructor approval before you begin to be sure it fulfills the criteria for the assignment.  Articles that do not fulfill assignment criteria, such as opinion pieces, editorials, or blogs, will result in essays that receive only 80% credit for the total grade.    

 be sure that you include the following:

  • In your introduction, include a brief background about bias in the media, a brief summary/background of the particular news story you are focusing on, and a clear thesis statement.
  • Well-developed body paragraphs to support your thesis statement. Be sure to use paraphrased and/or quoted evidence from the reading to support the points you are making.  Note that you are welcome to make comparisons with other articles, but this is not required.
  • A conclusion that briefly sums up your paper and leaves the reader something to think about.
  • A works cited page at the end of your essay for all works cited in the paper.
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