New Yorker media critic Jon Katz once wrote: There’s almost no media experience sweeter?than poring over a good newspaper. In the quiet morning, with a cup of coffee?so long as you haven?t turned on the TV, listened to the radio, or checked in online?it?s as comfortable and personal as information gets.?
How do you feel about the experience of reading a print newspaper? How do you feel about the experience of reading a newspaper online? Compare the content and experience of print and online editions of a newspaper. National newspapers such as USA Today and the New York Times, as well as most regional and local newspapers, have Web versions of their papers.
Look at the same day of the print and Web versions of a chosen newspaper. Describe the content, style, organization, advertisements, and experience of reading both types of newspapers.
Is the Web version organized in a similar way, with the same section topics?
Are the stories the same, and are they edited in the same way?
Does either version offer unique elements that couldn?t be duplicated in the other format?
Which version is more interesting or easier to read?
Is either version more information-based or more interpretive?
Does the Web version of the newspaper duplicate the print content and reading experience? (This is called shovel-casting.)
How does the medium (print vs. computer-based) affect the design, content, style, and reading experience of the newspaper?
Most agree that as older generations go, print versions will disappear. Can you think of anything that will be lost if/when this happens?
The purpose of the following exercise is to extend your critical approach to the news. Choose one newspaper (either a local or national daily paper) and two TV outlets (one a major network and one a cable newscast)?all from the same weekday.
Choose the same story from each source. Before posting, list every expert source who is quoted in the story from each. Count the total number of sources used by the newspaper or program. Do the sources work in jobs that require professional degrees, or do they work in blue-collar jobs? Look for quotes in the news article and for sound bites on television. Are all sources identified? How are they identified? What kinds of experts are quoted in the news? What gender are the news sources?
After reviewing your notes, write a couple paragraphs discussing patterns that emerge. Who seems to get quoted most frequently? Among those quoted, what kinds of occupations generally appear? Do male or female sources dominate?
Finally, offer your observations regarding bias in the presentation of the news story from each source ? if you make a claim/statement, remember to back up them up with specific passages or quotes.
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