Pick one topic/news story to follow in the news over the next six weeks. Follow that story over several different media outlets and forms, and over a period of time. You will track how the story changes over time and “has legs,” as well as how different media outlets cover the same story. You will print out hard copies of each example you cite and include it with your memo.
Undergrads will submit coverage from THREE different time periods over the next six weeks. However, you should also compare how the story was covered in different ways within the same news cycle (breaking news, analysis, columns, sidebars) AND how it was covered by different media outlets. From each time you dive into the story, you should look at TWO or more different media outlets and include at least TWO ways the story is presented. (More is fabulous). For each time period, you should include a minimum of FOUR examples. You want to leave a little time (whether it’s a few days or a week or two) between time periods.
Example: Let’s take the president’s State of the Union Speech as an example. You could include clips showing how CNN covered the speech (an Analysis), how Fox News covered the speech (an Analysis), a story from The Washington Post fact checking the speech (sidebar); a story about why so many women in Congress were wearing white (feature); and a story from the Atlanta Constitution about Stacey Abrams giving the Democratic rebuttal (news).
Even though the speech took place Tuesday night and some of the stories were published Wednesday morning, that would constitute one news cycle.
Then you’d jump into the story again a week or two later.
Topics: You may follow any story you like, as long as it is a story that “has legs.” For example, some topics in the news these days include U.S. immigration issues; Brexit; Syria; allegations of racism in Virginia. You may pick something close to where you live or something of global interest. Just make sure it’s not what we call a quick-and-dirty – a story with a very short shelf life.
Create a memo (using subheds) and do the following:
1. Explain what your topic is and why you chose it. What generally can you say about the amount of news coverage this topic received while you were monitoring it?
2. For the first time you analyze the story’s news coverage, explain what the main idea of the story was in relation to your topic, stating how your topic was covered. Include print outs of your story in your memo.
· What type of news story was it? (Breaking news, folo, feature, opinion, profile, analysis, etc.)
· What were the visual elements of the story? Any photos, video or online components that accompanied the story? Any links for related content?
· What light did this story shed on your topic? What new information was introduced? What was the angle of the story?
· What was the tone of the story? Was the reporter fair and objective in his/her reporting? Were other sides of the story introduced? How did that make your topic look?
· How much prominence was this story given in the publication or on the newscast? Was there a promo or tease to it? What page did it run on? Did it lede the broadcast?
· Were there any sidebars, graphics, photos or other accoutrements that ran with the story?
· Was social media used? Were reader comments and other responses allowed? What were they?
· How did the subject of the story come through? Did the person speak for himself/herself or use a spokesperson? What impression would the reader/viewer have? Did the subject of the story’s point of view come through?
· What does this story contribute to an overall understanding of this topic, and of the field?
Do this for each of the media outlets you use to compare coverage, and with sidebars/features/analyses you include.
3. Do the same for the SECOND time period you dive into the story.
4. Do the same for THIRD time period you dive into the story. (Graduate students will also have a fourth.)
5. List other media you monitored about this topic (such as an organization’s website, blogs, social media outlets or other media that covered this topic while you were monitoring with the same story angle). What did they say about your topic? Were any more or less reliable than your source for information?
6. Analyze overall how the topic has progressed since you started monitoring it. Did the news stories change your opinion of your topic? Compare what you thought about the topic when you first selected it and now after following it in the news.
7. What kind of PR help does this topic need? If you were the publicist, what would you have done differently in these news stories, or does this topic need more coverage? How would you pitch a future story on this topic to perhaps change the public opinion of the topic?
8. What would you predict the next story angle to be? How long do you think the media will continue to cover this topic, and will the media cover it with the same dedication?
9. On Monday, March 25, you will turn in your complete memo.
*Note: No footnotes are needed. If you quote something from your article in your memo, just provide appropriate attribution in your memo.
*I will put an example of this assignment on Blackboard.
*Use proper Memo format (just like you are doing for our speaker assignments). Include subheds, single space between lines but double space between paragraphs. You may print front and back.
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