Analyzing a Published Work
To be clear, the intent of this essay is not to argue for or against the content; instead, we are analyzing what the article does in terms of the following:
- approach, and
Go to an online newspaper website: Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/, http://www.kansascity.com/, or http://www.nytimes.com/ are a few possible sites, but feel free to use a more local newspaper website. Find an article in the Op/ED section that is argumentative in nature. Use the following questions to guide your analysis:
- What is the purpose of the text? In other words, what exactly is the position the article takes and/or what does the author want his or her readers to believe and/or do after reading the article?
- What strategies does the text use to attempt to achieve its purpose? Give examples from the article. In other words, does the article use facts, examples, experiences, logic, assumptions, data, sources, expert opinion, and so on to prove his or her position? Be sure to give examples. You could also try to determine if the position is presented as more of a Classical argument or a Rogerian argument.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the approach the article used? In other words, what would you have liked to see more of in the article? Less of? What worked? What didn't work? Do you detect bias that is unreasonable? Does the author use unreasonable assertions, stereotypes, or faulty information to make his or her points? Does the author place the opposition in an unfair light? Does the author distort the arguments of those who disagree? Does the author fail to recognize the weaknesses in his or her own position? Does the author leave out important information? Does the author back up his or her assertions with evidence, or does he or she simply make assumptions? What would most improve the argument? Explain your answers.
Remember, we are not arguing for or against the content of these articles; we are analyzing what the article attempts to do, how it does it, and if it does so fairly. We should not be concerned about how we feel about the article.
To be clear: Your readers should not know what your position is about the subject. Your readers should only know whether or not you felt the article was reasonable, well-developed, fair, etc. Do not include personal opinion or personal judgments about the subject matter. Do not include personal narrative.
This analysis should be presented in the form of a single essay, complete with a title page, an introduction, three body paragraphs (purpose, approach, and effectiveness), a conclusion, and a full References page.
Your analysis should meet the following criteria:
- Is based on a current topic and/or event;
- is between 300-500 words in length, not including the title page, abstract (if used), and References page;
- includes direct quotations and paraphrased passages from the text;
- uses attributive tags that not only work to convey the mood of the writer, but establish him or her as an authority in the field of study;
- avoids personal opinion;
- is written clearly, concisely, and accurately;
- is written solely in third-person;
- is formatted in APA style and includes a References page;
- has been closely edited so that it contains few or no mechanical errors;
- is ordered with a title page, an introduction, three body paragraphs (purpose, approach, and effectiveness), a conclusion, and a full References page.
*Note that no one writes a polished essay in a single sitting. Start early and give yourself time for multiple revisions.
As you work on your analysis, it is a good idea to keep the following questions in mind:
- How does this analysis meet the assignment criteria?
- How close do you feel your analysis reflected the presentation of the original argument?
- Does this analysis use effective transitions as it progresses from paragraph to paragraph?
- Does this analysis avoid personal opinion, casual language, or first or second person language?
- Is there anything in this analysis that could have been left out without losing its effect?
- Is there anything else that could have been added to this analysis to make it feel more complete?
- Is this analysis based on a current topic?