Analyzing a Newspaper Article Most of your writing in college will be analytical
Analyzing a Newspaper Article Most of your writing in college will be analytical. To analyze means to look below the surface of what is being written/said, providing your own informed assessment, evaluation, and interpretation. “Informed” means you can support all your assessments, evaluations, and interpretations with “evidence” from the text, in the form of quotations and/or paraphrases. Using the Newsbank database available through the SCCC Library’s webpage, find a newspaper article related to your research paper topic. Remember to use quotation marks and correct spelling of search terms to correctly limit your search. If possible, try to find an article that provides the name of the journalist who wrote the article (and as a research paper source) will probably be one of three types: A news story is usually about an event that occurred very recently. This article contains time-sensitive information that the newspaper editors feel the public need to know that day (the day the article appeared in the paper). News stories are usually objective, meaning the journalist does not give his/her opinion. However, the people involved in the story may be interviewed and may offer their opinions of the event or issue. (To be objective, the author may present multiple points of view.) Examples: An important upcoming or recent event at a historic site; vandalism or repairs at a historic home; an organization such as the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council making an important contribution to the community; a tragic accident or fire. A feature story is not time-sensitive (or may be seasonally relevant). The editors of the newspaper include these articles when there is available space in the paper. These articles may be about interesting local places, people, events, history. The author of a feature story may or may not include his/her opinion. Examples: Seasonal stories about local places; topics such as “stay-cations” that mention local places; profiles of interesting people; local interest pieces; articles about local wildlife or other natural history-related topics; interviews with hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Opinion pieces / Editorials are about important topics affecting the community or even the nation. These articles are subjective. An opinion piece will include the name of the author; the piece is his/her opinion. An editorial will not name an author; this article is written by the staff of the newspaper. Examples: editorials about proposed development of areas around a state park; opinions about local projects such as road work, dam repair, or powerline rights-of-way; opinion pieces about quality-of-life issues in a community. To analyze and fully understand a newspaper article: a. Know what type of article it is, and the author’s purpose for writing it. b. Understand which parts of the information are facts and which are opinions. c. Understand whose opinions are being presented in the article, and why. d. Watch for errors, or the ways information can reveal bias even if the author thinks he/she is being objective. e. Ask yourself what relevant or related information might have been omitted from the article, and why. (Understand, too, that the author probably had a word limit.) think about the following as you annotate the newspaper article: a. Learn as much as you can about the author of the article, and that person’s credentials. Is the author a journalist, or a contributor from some other profession? What is the author’s connection to the topic? Is the author a member of the community affected by the topic of the article? b. What is the author’s main purpose for writing the article? Does the author have a secondary purpose? Discuss where the author succeeds at informing, persuading, entertaining, inspiring… c. How will readers view the topic of the article? In what way(s) might a reader’s feelings about the topic change by reading the article? What will a reader learn that is new? d. What does the author explain well? What information could use a more detailed, nuanced explanation? e. What does the author present that is positive; what does the author present that is negative? f. Would anyone be offended by the topic or by any of the information in the article? Would anyone possibly have an opposing point of view? g. Analyze the author’s writing style: What specific examples of “weighted words” or “loaded language” reveal the author’s bias? (Remember that bias can be positive or negative.) Where was the author trying to remain neutral (unbiased), or presenting more than one side of an issue? h. What does the author include that you consider the most important information? What else did you learn from the article? (You can use “I” in moderation in essay #2, but keep the focus on the author.) i. How will this article help you if you use it as a source for your research paper? (This would be a good conclusion to your analysis.) What information is not included in the article that you will need to find from another source? Why does the author not include certain information? Don’t try to do all of those in your essay, but use those suggestions to organize this paper into approximately 6-7 detailed paragraphs of analysis. Develop your ideas with depth; I’m looking for paragraphs that stay on-topic and expand on the ideas therein. Use brief, accurate quotes from the article to support your points. Use quotation marks correctly (including the challenging quotes-within-quotes!). **** MLA format ❖ Introductory paragraph with thesis sentence. The thesis will give direction and focus to your analysis, and will help you avoid simply summarizing the article. ❖ Several body paragraphs, each analyzing a specific aspect of the article; in each body paragraph, use quotes from the article to support your analysis. ❖ Conclusion, including how this article will work as a source for your research paper.

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