An Essay of Persuasion or Argument
Essay I: Media and Misinformation
We’ve discussed the ways in which the media employs fear tactics to manipulate viewer experience and increase ratings. But what else is going on? And what can be done about it? Clearly there’s a problem with the way the news is presented—and with our willingness to mindlessly consume it. You’ll do a bit of free-writing and even some outside research, and take the Ballenger approach (critical inquiry) in order to find what it is about the media’s representation of current events, trends or movements that most speaks to you. In class we will drum up a list of questions that can be used as prompts.
In your first essay, you will be required to address some of the pitfalls of mass media. As in all of your essays, you will craft an argument, and your argument MUST be debatable; that is, it must make a claim. In order to arrive at a place where you can fully develop and support an argument—and deliver it without bullying the reader—you will be asked to perform an analysis of others’ arguments, and as well of a particular subtopic (your narrowing device) that interests you. We will discuss some of these in class. Others you may come up with on your own.
Fear; Sensationalism; Public Opinion; For-Profit News Agencies; Stereotyping—Representations of Race, Class or Gender; Objectivity; Ethical Standards; Freedom of the Press; Propaganda; Consumerism and MORE!
Ultimately, this essay asks that you look at American mass media with a critical eye, and address both what is lost AND what is gained as a consequence of its delivery. Ask yourself WHAT IS AT STAKE? And think deeply about the answer. Pick a NARROW sub-topic and explore it to the fullest extent possible, given the time you have. It’s hard work, but it will pay off.
- Your essay should be no less than 3 full pages (like, a word or two onto the fourth page), no more than 5 (that’s between 750 and 1250 words), double-spaced. Use standard 1” margins and a standard font (i.e., Times, Times New Roman ONLY).
- Please include page numbers, a UNIQUE and REVEALING title, and a complete Works Cited page, formatted according to MLA standards. There is no need to include a separate title page. STAPLE your essay or I will not accept it. If you need to run to find a stapler at the start of class, your essay will be marked late! And so will you!
- You MUST use a minimum of THREE (and a maximum of four) credible, college-level sources, including Culture of Fear, and any additional sources I list on Tumblr, AS WELL AS ONE ARTICLE FROM THE LIBRARY DATABASES. Your sources should be DIRECTLY RELATED to your thesis and should also be the MOST trustworthy you can find; this will require extensive research. In addition to the aforementioned academic sources, you MUST cite several specific examples from the news media (refer to articles/ clips demonstrating misinformation about your TOPIC, to wit: a reference or two to Fox News’ representations of liberals, immigrants, sexual predators, as we see in Culture of Fear). Do NOT merely choose the first sources you come across, as these are highly unlikely to be the MOST trustworthy or relevant.
- All of your sources must be introduced, attributed and cited within the body of your essay, according to MLA standards. You must quote each of them. As with your sources, choose your quotes based on RELEVANCE, not length.