This media analysis of religion encourages us to reflect critically on media coverage of world events and to apply critical thinking to our understanding of religiously related phenomena. The final project is intended to advocate creativity and personal strengths and interests when presenting your research. It is hoped that these skills will prove advantageous in future professional environments and reveal the personal transformative power inherent within individuals for social change and the promotion of shared values in a global environment.
Analyze media coverage surrounding a theme, story, or event that has occurred during the semester (10-12 sources at minimum). The subject of your commentary may be political, social, economic, or any other orientation in nature. Students should briefly summarize the content of the news source and focus on analyzing its author, publication source, rhetoric, evidence, and argumentation (or lack thereof). You need not necessarily agree or disagree on all, or for that matter, any points that the source makes, as long as you justify your claims. Present your own critical analysis of the topic in light of what you have learned in class, referring to specific readings. In your analysis students should critique media sources.
This is not a research report or history of a given subject. Your goal is assess the reporting on a given narrative, critique the presentation of you chosen theme, and evaluate the possible consequences of the media’s presentation of your topic.
The Critical Commentary is open to your own creative interpretation. Please do not let technology intimidate or limit you in your creativity but please do not bite off more than you can chew. If you are comfortable with your writing and believe that is your best form of communication than please feel free to write a final critical analysis of religion in the media. However, communication is not only done through literary products and other mediums are often more effective in transferring meaning than traditional forms of written communication (e.g. A picture is worth a thousand words). I an encourage you to employ your own creative strengths if they do not inhibit a timely presentation of your analysis.
You are welcome to produce
a written analysis (roughly 1000-1500 words )
an audio podcast (6-10 minutes )
video presentation (6-10 minutes )
digital annotated photo album
or any another approved presentation
Possible analytical questions we should consider about individual articles:
(1) Content: What issues, people or events were covered? Who wrote this article? Which religions were covered? Which religions and issues are left out? What is the argument of the article?
(2) First Impressions: What impressions do the headline and first paragraph give? How do they define the situation? Are photographs or other illustrations used? Do they give a positive or negative impression of their subject? Why?
(3) Language: Which words or phrases are used repeatedly or are given emphasis? Are name-calling or stereotypes used? Are broad generalizations used or did the writer qualify his/her observations? What is the general tone of the coverage, especially about religion? Give examples.
(4) Sources: Is it possible to identify the sources of information used in the coverage? Are these sources reliable? Why? Can you differentiate between facts and opinions in the coverage? Give examples.
(5) Perspective: What point of view is being promoted? Who are the “good guys” and “bad guys” in the reporting? What emotions does the coverage stir up?
(6) Influences: What constraints of the news media business (economic, political, etc.) may have influenced the form and/or content of the coverage? How?
(7) Consequences: What general attitude toward religion does the coverage arouse?
(8) Coverage: How prominent is the coverage? (For example, does anything make the reporting stand out or easy to find?) Does the coverage attract your attention? How?
Possible analytical questions we should consider about a subject:
Why might this be an important topic for a media outlet to address?
How do the authors present the history of the issue, if at all?
What does each author emphasize?
Has anything been left out of the discussion? If so, what are the implications?
What patterns do you notice of religion coverage on this theme?
What implications might you predict for public knowledge on the topic? Future reporting on the topic?
What conclusions can you draw about the presentation of this religious theme?
What issues do these stories focus on?
Do you think the authors’ analyses are grounded in academic and/or personal knowledge of the topic? Why or why not?
What are the differences and similarities between your sources on your theme?
What can you add to their understanding of this issue?
What religious issues or situations gain prominence in media (e.g. homepage or front page news)?
Overall, think about how the perspective of the author, publication source, rhetoric, evidence, and argumentation (or lack thereof) shape the presentation. You need not necessarily agree or disagree on all, or for that matter, any points that the source makes, as long as you justify your claims in terms of its success or failure in presenting a given religion.