omm 230, Short Paper 3: U.S. Media Coverage of U.S. Politics 20 pts (~2.5 pgs) Due: Mon., Nov. 8

Comm 230, Short Paper 3: U.S. Media Coverage of U.S. Politics 20 pts (~2.5 pgs) Due: Mon., Nov. 8

Purpose: Students will examine a newspaper’s (online or print) media coverage of politics/government and assess its framing in relation to their view of quality media coverage in a democratic society. You will probably find the homework assignment for Week 8 helpful in doing this paper, as well as all course material (lectures, discussions, homework) from Weeks 8 & 9.

One of the things on the political and media agenda right now is the “Build Back Better Act” being debated in the U.S. House. Here is the summary and full-text of it (which might be helpful, but you do NOT have to read it).
Please read this overview of the bill, which, from my perspective, does a decent job of outlining. You are NOT evaluating this article. But, if gives you a decent context of the bill and you could bring it in to make certain points about your focus article.

Process: 
Your “FOCUS” article: Pick ONE of the following articles and analyze its framing of the bill.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/21/politics/democrats-build-back-better-agenda-biden/index.html 
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/18/what-is-build-back-better-crash-course 
https://www.foxnews.com/media/biden-ripped-for-tweeting-his-build-back-better-plan-costs-zero-dollars
https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-popularity-biden-s-build-back-better-plan-matters-n1280250
https://www.newsweek.com/bernie-sanders-re-ignites-feud-joe-manchin-wins-battle-fossil-fuel-1639585 
https://www.npr.org/2021/10/22/1047975012/heres-what-we-know-is-in-the-scaled-back-biden-budget-bill-and-what-got-cut 
I highly recommend reading and incorporating at least one other article to get a taste for how different outlets might be framing this story a bit differently. If you do not bring in additional articles beyond your “focus” article, you will not be able to get an “A” grade on this paper. Cite any sources in your Works Cited and use  parenthetical citations: (author/reporter).
Critically analyze your focus article using the questions provided below as your guide, following the format to write a short paper about the quality of coverage. 
Each paragraph should put forth an argumentative claim in the topic sentence about the framing and if it showed quality democratic coverage. Then, provide evidence of your claim and explain your reasoning. Be sure to address any objections someone might have to your argument in each case. Your critical conclusion will get into the “so what” of these claims in terms its effect on democracy/education; wait until then to lay out the implications of this coverage. 
Do NOT assume the reader has read your news article. You have to make your points with the assumption that your reader has NOT read the article you are analyzing, so you have to provide evidence of your points.
After introducing the reporter’s name, title, source, date in the introduction, just use the last name of the reporter for subsequent references to the article. 

Format: Paper should be double-spaced, paginated, and use 12 point, Times New Roman font in Word or PDF
Introduction: Provide a short introduction, briefly set the context (This happened on this day between these people) and explain what you will be doing in the paper (evaluating the media coverage of a news article by [reporter’s name] from [name of news outlet] called [title] published on [date]). Include a thesis statement about your critical argument about the quality of coverage and your overall reasoning for why it was “quality” or not. 

****Do NOT use the words “bias” or “objective” in this paper. There is no need to use these terms as they often stand in for clear explanation and specificity.

Body
Framing “in” and “out”?: What are the main points the article covers about the general topic and what is some information and/or perspectives that they leave out? In other words, what does the article frame “in” and what does it frame “out”? Incorporated into the topic sentence should be what the article framed in and out in terms of content and if it resulted in quality democratic coverage or not (do NOT get into how specific language was framed here). You need to describe what you mean and explain your reasoning within the paragraph. You don’t necessarily need quotes for this section because you are not analyzing language, specifically.
Your job is to evaluate whether the media did as good of a job as possible considering time and space constraints, which makes it impossible to do everything. In other words, did they choose the “right” stuff to cover.
Think about: What else do I need/want to know to understand this issue as a citizen?
Looking at a couple of other articles might help you come up with things that this article did not cover but could have.
NOTE: Do NOT get into commentary on partisan and/or journalistic framing in this section – this comes LATER. Focus on what information was put in and left out and whether it was the “right stuff,” but NOT on whether this was influenced by partisan or journalistic incentives.

Journalistic/conflict framing?: How was the journalistic/conflict frame at play, if at all? Explain. Incorporated into the topic sentence should be whether or not the use (or lack of use) of the journalistic frame resulted in quality democratic coverage or not. You need to describe what you mean and explain your reasoning within the paragraph (i.e. explain why the coverage is “quality” or not). Include multiple pieces of evidence of the journalistic/conflict frame (quotes):
Sensational or exaggerated language would be considered journalistic/conflict framing, as well as oversimplifying to make an interesting story or emphasize extremes. This is NOT to say that journalist shouldn’t point out a conflict – it is about how they do it. Does it use the “game” frame?
Incorporating exaggerated or oversimplified narratives would also be considered journalistic/conflict framing. Does it tell or perpetuate certain character narratives of either politicians or stakeholders that are oversimplified? How so? 
You might investigate whether the things included resulted in episodic framing of or thematic, or a little of both. Generally, episodic framing is thought of to be more of journalistic bias. 

Partisan framing?: Was there any evidence of partisan bias? Explain. Incorporated into the topic sentence should be whether or not there was partisan framing and whether or not / how it affected the quality of democratic coverage. You need to describe what you mean and explain your reasoning within the paragraph (i.e. explain why the coverage is “quality” or not), as well as include multiple pieces of evidence (quotes) of any partisan framing. 
NOTE: Make your own evaluation and THEN check https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/ and https://www.adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart/ to check out your source. You can use that to finesse your answer; however, just because one of the media bias links above says that a certain outlet leans partisan does NOT automatically mean that the article you are examining has that bias. Engage with that.
NOTE: Just because an article says something negative about a certain politician or policy does NOT mean it is automatically partisan. In order to cover things accurately, sometimes it has to be framed negatively (i.e. would anyone want a “neutral” story about a politician robbing a bank? Does the journalist really have to find the “good” in that?)

Critical Conclusion: Discuss the major ways this article exhibited high and/or low quality democratic coverage. What are some possible (negative) democratic implications/impacts of the way the story was covered? What are some ways the article could improve its framing in the news article? 
NOTE: implications are not a repeat of what you’ve already said – they are the “so why does this matter for our democracy and education?” considerations.

Works Cited: Include newspaper article and any readings you used from the course. No outside sources are necessary.

Each paragraph should be about a ½ page long, double-spaced, with the introduction shorter than that. The paper should be no more than 2.5 pages long (not including works cited); anything less than 2 pages probably needs development.

Evaluation Rubric:
Highlighted text indicates areas need improvement
Missing
Below Average
Average
Good
Excellent
Intro: sets up context, gives clear, specific argumentative thesis
0
0.5
1
1.5
1.75
2
Framing “in” and “out”: 
Clear topic sentence introduces content of section and provides argumentative angle on quality of coverage
Reader gets a clear idea of what was included of all the things that could have been included 
Argument provided on what should have been included that was not
Concepts are correctly and analytically applied
Sound reasoning is provided
Fitting evidence is provided
Has critical depth/sharpness, incorporates other articles
Does NOT include evaluation of journalistic/conflict or partisan framing
0
1
2
3
3.25
3.5
3.75
4
Journalistic/Conflict Framing
Clear topic sentence introduces content of section and provides argumentative angle on quality of coverage
Explanation of content is clear and cohesive
Concepts are correctly and analytically applied
Sound reasoning is provided
Fitting evidence is provided
Has critical depth/sharpness, incorporates other articles
Shows consideration of other possible angles or refutations that might be raised against their argument that the framing is harmful or not
Does NOT include evaluation of partisan framing or conflate journalistic/conflict framing with partisan framing
0
1
2
3
3.25
3.5
3.75
4
Partisan Framing
Clear topic sentence introduces content of section and provides argumentative angle on quality of coverage
Explanation of content is clear and cohesive
Concepts are correctly and analytically applied
Sound reasoning is provided
Fitting evidence is provided
Has critical depth/sharpness, incorporates other articles
Shows consideration of other possible angles or refutations that might be raised against their argument that there is/is not partisan framing
0
1
2
3
3.25
3.5
3.75

4
Critical conclusion:
In one sentence, major claims of paper recapped
Implications (wider democratic impacts beyond what has been assessed previously in the paper) are discussed, showing deep critical thinking
Insightful and specific recommendations for improvement are given
0
0.5
1
1.5
1.75
2
Argumentative cohesion/depth: From thesis to body paragraphs to conclusion, the argument stays consistent and doesn’t contradict itself. Argumentative depth is strong throughout. Paragraph content is not unnecessarily repetitive, but the paragraph fit together and are related
0
0.5
1
1.5
1.75
2
Writing and citations: Effective grammar, syntax, and organization. Necessary citations are accurately provided both in-text and in Works Cited entries. 
0
0.5
1
1.5
1.75
2
Final Score out of 20: