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).

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 effects your findings will have on our democratic political process. This is NOT a pro/con type of analysis!

GENERAL GUIDELINES:
This written assignment must be typed and saved as a Word (.doc or .docx) or .pdf file. GOOGLE files cannot be submitted. You’ll need to download your google file and resave it into a Word or .pdf file.

Your assignment 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.)Links to an external site. .

SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS:
TOPIC
California becomes the first US state to ban animal fur products

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.)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.)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).

DETECTING BIAS
You will then critically analyze, by comparing and contrasting, how your two news media sources relay the information concerning the topic you have chosen.

Do NOT use first person.

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.)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!).

FACT-CHECKING
You must also fact-check your two news sources.

Do NOT use first person.

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. Find points which are presented as “truthful” or as “fact.” The obvious examples include actual numbers, but there might be statements of fact (i.e., “all people believe that” or “most people believe that”) embedded into sentences and/or assumed.

You will then need to fact-check these! This isn’t 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 fact-checking resources–be careful because some are just as biased as the news source!

Final ANALYSIS
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!

Do NOT use first person.

At the end of each bias mention why this is important to know–how does it affect the reader/listener.

And then at the very end of your assignment write 2+ paragraphs about your overall findings (biases, fact-checking) AND an examination of both the short and long term effects on our political system. Be sure that your final analysis 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). However, 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 points of bias 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 news source you found it
state what source(s) you used to fact-check and
rate the fact/truth as true, mostly true, mostly false, or false.
The concluding paragraphs that should be your examination of your findings-your analysis as outlined in #5 above. Be sure that you
Provide a few points
Provide an in-depth explanation of each of your points and
Analyze specific aspects of our political system that might be/are affected by media bias.
Cite your sources.

Do NOT USE FIRST PERSON

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