Assignment: Write an 8 - 12 page research paper that examines the media coverage of a U.S. intervention in another country. Demonstrate your familiarity with the mainstream coverage and perspective and the alternative coverage and perspectives through comparing/contrasting and analyzing the two perspectives and media coverage of the intervention. Since this is a course in Media Literacy, the idea is for you to demonstrate
a) that you are aware of mainstream content and perspectives on your topic, and
b) that you are familiar with alternative perspectives.
Present these, then compare, discuss, and analyze them.
DUE: Friday, March 19th, 2009, 4 pm. If you wish to hand it in earlier in the semester, you are welcome to do so. Given the number of papers to be marked, you will not receive them back before writing the final exam. Do not have your papers date-stamped by the secretaries. Do not use plastic or other covers, just staple your paper, or use a paper clip. Late papers will be penalized 5% per day. Please read the full description of paper advice from your course outline.
Topics:These are fairly narrow in scope, compared to the broad spectrum of topics covered in class. There are pedagogical reasons for this, which I will discuss in class. Topics include: U.S. interventions (invasions, wars, coups, etc) abroad, for example in: Iran, Panama, Grenada, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, or Chile. William Blum’s book is an excellent resource for learning more about US interventions in these countries. You may tackle recent wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, but your sources will be more limited. Do not choose the 1991 Gulf War, Haiti, Cuba, Kosovo, or East Timor, as these are examined in your texts. If you are uncertain about a topic, or your approach to a topic, then check with the professor or your GA.
As a suggestion, you may wish to read the brief overview of U.S. "interventions" written by William Blum, the author of Killing Hope. This may give you an idea for what country or intervention to write your paper on. Additionally, the book, Killing Hope, is on reserve at Leddy Library.
You may also be interested in reading this book chapter which I wrote about media coverage in the (first) Persian Gulf War, as it may serve as a guide for you in writing your own papers.
Grading Criteria: The following criteria will be used to grade your papers.
1. Does the paper have a clear statement of its purpose, goal, thesis, introduction and conclusions?
2. Does the student understand the assignment, and hence describe (minimally) or analyze (hopefully) both mainstream and alternative media perspectives on their chosen U.S. intervention?
3. Does the paper contain adequate reference to both mainstream and alternative news media perspectives regarding the intervention?
4. Does the reader come away with an understanding of mainstream and alternative media perspectives on the intervention?
5. Does the paper use at least five academic references? Three mainstream and three alternative media references?
6. Does the paper make an argument? Is it merely descriptive, or analytical?
7. Does the paper use correct formatting, with footnotes? Is there good referencing throughout?
8. Is the grammar acceptable? Spelling and punctuation?
9. Do you indicate which perspective seems to make the most sense to you; which is backed up by facts?
10. Do your findings fit within a particular academic literature, or theoretical framework pertaining to world affairs and U.S. foreign policy? Why do the media distortions you have observed, exist?
Paper Format: Using Oxford Style Footnotes
Per the paper assignment instructions, please use the Oxford Style for footnotes in your paper. The following PDF details how to create footnotes for your paper. You are not required to include a list of references, but you can include one if you wish. If you have questions about using footnotes, please contact the GA's.
Unfortunately, the article does not give an example of a newspaper source. Here is an example of how to footnote a newspaper article:
J Smith, 'Title of Newspaper Article', New York Times, October 22, 1991, A4.
(if you are using an online database to find articles, you do not need to include the page the article was on if it is not included in the citation from the database. You do not have to include the link to the reference from the database. If you are using online sources, please refer to the style guide for how to reference websites/online sources)
This PDF also contains information on how to reference newspaper articles, and video material.