- An introduction which clearly states a thesis (and please underline that thesis).
- A body which develops the thesis, with one argument per paragraph, and several points of evidence supporting each argument.
- A conclusion which not only restates the thesis, but leaves the reader with something more, such as speculation on the broader implications of the thesis.
For each essay, each student will write 2 or 3 reviews of classmates' papers. (Thus, each student will also receive 2 or 3 reviews of their essay.) Peer reviews should include both things the author did well and at least one substantive comment about what the author can improve. Which does the student need to work on more, writing style and grammar or argument and evidence? If the paper is light on using course or reading content, do you have suggestions for resources they might draw from?
Note that these peer reviews will not be anonymous, so you should take care to offer constructive criticism (the same kind you would like to see someone offer on your paper).
Essay 1: Our responses to media
- Two specific questions: “What about this experience was fun, and why?” and “What about this experience bothered you, and why?”
- An additional 3 questions prepared before the event. Ask these of your respondents.
- Follow-up questions—at least one for each respondent. Write these down, because you will want to be able to refer to them in your paper and you need to know exactly what you asked.
Recommendations for structuring your essay:
1) Write a solid paragraph of introduction. This should include a brief (one or two sentences) description of the game you observed, and a mention of the people you observed playing, including notable characteristics (such as age, gender, major, gaming experience and any other important personal variables). It should also make a case for the purpose of the essay. And it should conclude with an underlined thesis statement.
2) In several (3-4) paragraphs of evidence supporting the thesis, draw on concepts from at least 2 of the perspectives on mass media effects we have discussed in lecture. Your analysis should provide rich and specific descriptions of the reactions you observed, and logical connections to the class concepts. Where appropriate, you can also connect what you observed to ideas from readings. Readings should be cited using APA style. Lectures can be cited in-text, for example by stating "As described in lecture..."
3) In your conclusion, restate your thesis and show how your evidence has supported it. Then go a little further: show how your essay points to bigger implications of what you have discussed.
4) Include in your paper a one page appendix describing the questions you prepared and at least 3 examples of follow up questions you asked.
Essay 2: Evaluating reporting
Pick a current news story, and analyze how that story is covered by two different news outlets. The outlets should be fairly similar (such as two different daily newspapers or two different weekly newsmagazines). Then, using course concepts and at least three authoritative sources (from your reader, from the further readings, from guest lectures, and/or from outside sources) to evaluate the coverage by the two outlets.
Beware: This assignment is not as simple as it seems. A "news story" is rarely confined to a single news report. This means you should be somewhat careful in your story selection: For very long stories, like a war or a presidential election, you will need to pick a manageable sub-story or event to focus on for your paper. It also will mean reading more than just one article from each news outlet in order to follow the coverage of the story over time. You should bring at least two articles from each outlet into your discussion. Attach copies of these articles to your draft essay, and reference them appropriately in your paper.
Also, pay close attention also to the kinds of news coverage you are reading. Are these breaking news reports or later news summaries? Are they "analysis" articles from a particular point of view, or attempts at "objective" reporting? Are they opinion pieces? Press releases? Coverage purchased from other news organizations (like the Associated Press)?
Your thesis should answer the question: which outlet covered the story better?
To do this, you need to consider a number of questions. These include:
- What is the news story? (To determine this, you will need to contemplate what defines quality news coverage.)
- How do the different outlets cover the story? What was different? What was similar?
- Why did the outlets cover the story differently? Why did they cover it similarly? What might this coverage indicate about the goals and constraints facing each outlet?
- How might the coverage of these outlets matter? (This might be good material for your conclusion.)
Throughout your essay, use class concepts--from lectures, guest speakers, and readings--to make your case. There is an expectation that you will use at least 3 non-lecture sources, and properly cite and reference each. These may include readings, further reading, guest lectures, or other sources. They do not include the articles you analyze in the paper.
Essay 3: Analyzing advertising
Pick any PRINT advertisement you like and use at least two authoritative articles (from your reader, from the optional readings listed on this web site, and/or from outside sources) to analyze the purpose and effectiveness of that advertisement, paying attention to both its context (the media product it appears in) and its target market.
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.
Your paper should answer the questions: What is the advertisement for and where was it placed? What is its intended function? How do you know this? And how well does the ad perform that function?
Staple a xeroxed copy of your advertisement along with the printed rough draft that you hand in to your TA.