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News journal

In this formative assignment, you will observe how our important media concepts relate to the news as it's presented in a variety of media forms.
This work will form the foundation for assessment work later on.

Each week, you will be required to
  • watch one full (min 1/2h) news broadcast on any major Canadian or American network (e.g. CBC, CTV, CityTV, NBC, CBS). If you choose an all-news network like CNN or CBC Newsworld, make sure that you are watching a news report, not a magazine show or extended spot focusing on a particular topic. If you're not sure, ask your parents or me.
  • read the front page and Editorials page of a major Canadian newspaper (e.g. Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, or a major paper from another Canadian city. You are also encouraged to browse the entire first section of that paper, reading any stories that catch your eye.
  • read what appears to be the main story from the website of a non-Canadian newspaper (e.g. The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian -- see a longer list of suggestions on Blackboard)
For wach Monday's class, you will be posting a discussion of what you have seen and read to your blog. The discussion will be composed of two parts -- OBSERVATIONS and ANALYSIS. The observations you're required to comment on are:
  • In the TV broadcast, what was the topic of the lead story? What was the last story (besides sports scores, weather, or other simple "updates")?
  • On the newspaper's front page, what stories appeared "above the crease"? What stories appeared below? Which stories had visuals (photos, graphs) on the front page?
  • On the Editorials page, what topics did the editorial(s), cartoon(s), and letters to the editor address? How many letters criticized the newspaper's earlier stories?
  • On the news website, what are the most prominent visuals? What appeared to be the most significant story?
A different analysis focus will be posted on the blog each week.

Analysis Topics

Week 1: How do the different media direct your attention toward what they consider important? Refer to all three, using specific examples and explaining in terms of the media concept of constructions of reality.

Week 2: Find a story that all three forms of news reported on. Examine the differences in how they reported the story: what was emphasized, what was missing from one version that was present in another, did the way the story was told betray any kind of bias? Does there seem to be a dominant reading of the story? What is your reading of it, and how did you arrive at that reading?

Week 3: Media texts target specific groups and then connect that group with advertising aimed at it. Identify the advertisements that appear on the website and during the commercial breaks of the TV news broadcast. Who do you conclude is the target audience for the website? For the broadcast? How does the website differ in its advertising methods from the TV broadcast?

Week 4: In the newspaper, examine the editorials. Whom do they seem to be supporting? Whom do they seem to be criticizing? What values and ideologies does this paper seem to be embracing? What impact might the editorials have on how people view any social or political issues that have been raised?