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Comparative Media Analysis

By wesmoranga Apr 24, 2015 737 Words
Comparative Media Analysis
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Environmental Issues
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English (U.S.)

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One of the themes of this course is the presentation of alternative viewpoints about issues affecting the environment. An important dimension to this debate is the reporting of issues in the media and in informational materials prepared by international organizations such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In this assignment you are required to analyse media articles or information pieces and to apply some of the thinking you have been exposed to in the course so far, as well as standard 'critical thinking', as described in the box below. By comparing the arguments and formats that these media pieces bring to bear on the problem, you can uncover faulty arguments, unsubstantiated positions and clearly biased information. In the process you should also come to realize the strengths and weaknesses of different informational formats.

What is required

Read the following two articles (attached to this email) on Canada?s costs in meeting the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, one from a speech by the President of an Industry Organisation and the other from an environmental NGO, the David Suzuki Foundation.

Reading 1: The Kyoto Crossroads: Where Do We Go From Here?

Reading 2: The Bottom Line on Kyoto, (read Executive Summary only)

The two pieces take differing perspectives and differ as well in the type of information source they represent. You are not to confine your reading to these two pieces; other readings may help you decide on which side of an issue one or other of the pieces may be more reliable (academic sources are also required).

Answer the following questions in a maximum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages (remember, we are pleased to see double sided printing or re-use of scrap paper already printed on one side). If you prefer, you may answer the questions together in an essay format. Each question is weighted equally.

Using what you have learned in class, the tutorials and from the assigned readings, do you feel the pieces are biased or incomplete in any way? Identify where arguments may be slanted or important information is not included. Based on the information presented and taking account of the presentational format (speech versus on-line report), what do you see to be the strengths and weaknesses of each article. Focus on the pros and cons of each format and how well the author uses it. If you feel a reader needs more information to make an informed judgement about the issue in question, what kinds of material would be useful? Comment on whether this information could have been provided in these articles or not.Some Help

Completing this assignment requires critical thinking about what you read. The box below contains a few tips to help you in developing this type of thinking. Note these suggestions are to guide you only. 

Steps in Critical Thinking

Identify and evaluate premises and conclusions in an argument. Acknowledge and clarify uncertainties, vagueness, equivocation and contradictions. Distinguish between facts and values (can assertions be 'tested'?). Recognize and interpret assumptions (do these reflect bias?). Distinguish the reliability or unreliability of a source (how expert are the sources?). Recognize and understand conceptual frameworks (where is the author coming from?).

(Source: based on work by Karen Warren)

Symptoms of Doubtful Assertions and Weak Arguments in Media Articles

The main point is unclear.
Evidence provided to support the argument is inadequate.
Analogies used are illogical.
Opinion and fact are intermingled.
Uses celebrity to endorse argument.
Vague references are used in place of specific references, e.g. "Most dentists agree that ?". Author is unaware of own biases.
Author is affiliated with or seeks to profit from a stakeholder in the argument. Graphs are used to distort the appearance of results.
Evidence from an experiment fails to mention the 'control' group. Attributes stereotypical characteristics to members of a particular group. Scientific information may contain misconceptions or be misleading. A percentage or fraction is given without the total sample size, e.g. "9 out of 10 dentists ?". Small sample size is used to represent a precise representation. Single explanations or conclusions are presented with no mention of other possibilities.

(Source: compiled by Marcie Dumais and Tamara Hansen)

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