Performing News Analysis

Introduction: The final paper will perform news analysis and will require some research; it needs to be at least 1800 words long (6 standard pages). You will choose a topic and find two news items (news articles or video segments) on it, which you will analyze in terms of frames, sources, and neutrality. Choose news items, not opinion pieces. Detailed instructions for the final paper: These need to be fact-based news items; opinion pieces are not acceptable. For EACH news item, answer the following questions and give evidence for your answers by briefly quoting the text or describing the video and audio.

The approximate required length is given for each news item. But don’t allow any paragraph to go longer than about half of a double-spaced page; if needed, break it into more paragraphs even if only one paragraph is suggested here.

1. What were the main points of information conveyed? That is, describe the facts that this item conveyed. (1 paragraph)

2. Name at least three pieces of information that the item didn’t include, and provide the missing information yourself, from other sources. Cite these sources in author-date format. (1 para.)

3. What was the most important frame used? (1 para.) See the definition of “frame” below for guidance on how to identify the frame and the evidence for it.

4. What was the second most important frame used? (1 para.)

5. Which sources did the story rely upon? Which sources could have been used but were not? (1 para.)

6. Was the story neutral/balanced or biased concerning partisanship, or another dimension that you choose to focus upon? In answering this, consider whether the frames used and the sources used tended to favor one side over the other. Specify the type of bias, its direction, and the degree of bias, e.g., roughly balanced, leaning slightly, leaning heavily, or being totally one-sided. (1 para.)

7. What do you think the reporter, editor, or producer should have done differently in order to better fulfill the media organization’s role in our democracy? Specifically, what kinds of unconsulted sources, and what absent frame(s) would have enriched the story or made it more balanced? (1 para.) Organize your paper by questions, not by news items. That is, answer question # 1 for your first news item (in one paragraph) and then for your second news item (in a second paragraph), and then do the same for the question # 2, etc. Phrase your answers to question # 7 as a conclusion to the paper.

Definition of a “frame” in news reporting:

– A frame is the interpretation that journalists put on the news.

– It’s the conclusion they want you to draw – what they want you to believe and feel. Often this points toward what should be done about a problem, or who should be blamed for it.

– Framing involves selecting and emphasizing facts, making moral evaluations, and identifying causes and/or consequences.

– Hence, a frame defines problems, tends to give credit or blame to certain actors, and suggests solutions and actions that should be taken.

– Hence, to identify a frame, look for explicit assertions of (or implied) causes, consequences, credit, and blame; also look for morally laden descriptions. Ask yourself: What conclusion did they want you to draw? What does this suggest should be done about the problem?

– Journalists use many tools for framing, and to give evidence that a frame exists, you need to describe these elements, which include: wording of the headline and lead sentence or paragraph; selection of certain facts rather than others; allowing sources to present their frames uncontested or criticizing the frames provided by sources; selecting visual images (photos, video clips, graphs, etc.); choice of language for key ideas; and tone of voice (e.g., disapproving, approving, fearful, angry).


SOURCES: 1. (usa source) 2. (uk source)

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