Then, locate the original report cited—a scientific journal article—and begin analyzing the differences/similarities among the three texts.

Oct 9, 2022

Learning Goal: I’m working on a english writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
This project consists of conducting a rhetorical analysis of news media, in order to understand the limits of news media and how rhetorical choices function to help persuade readers or viewers to certain perspectives. As consumers of news media, it is our responsibility to be critical of what we read. It is not helpful to simply discount what you read, or to accept it without question. Being a critical reader requires us to evaluate what we read, conduct some research to verify information, and form opinions based on thoughtful consideration of the information available and our observations of the use of persuasion.
Rhetorical Analysis of Science Accommodation
Scientific studies are adapted, summarized, and presented in popular news media all the time. This is referred to as “science accommodation.” Professor Jeanne Fahnestock explains that the concept of “Accommodating Science applies ideas from classical rhetoric and techniques of close reading typical of discourse analysis to the question of what happens when scientific reports travel from expert to lay publications” (Fahnestock, 1998). According to Fahnestock, there are important changes made to the structure, content, and purpose of a popular publication versus a scientific publication. In other words, in changing the language to make it accessible to general readers, information is often changed, and the potential for misunderstanding by the general audience increases.
Find two popular media reports (an online news publication, a popular magazine, a TED talk, a TV news story, etc.) that are based on the discussions of a single scientific finding (the same one for all publications). Then, locate the original report cited—a scientific journal article—and begin analyzing the differences/similarities among the three texts.
Begin by looking through current news stories that interest you and have a health or science background. Look specifically for something that is citing or reporting a new or somewhat recent study (< 1 year is best, < 5 years is OK). To conduct your analysis, closely read each of the texts and highlight/circle the main sections that report on the finding. Then use your understanding of the rhetorical situation and the Fahnestock essay to begin looking for the significant differences.
Also consider: What sources are used in the original science report and in the media accommodation of it? Do the accommodation pieces go beyond the published research to include interviews for quotations from the scientists not found in the original article? Do these interviews include observations and conclusions not found in the original published article? Why are these changes made? What is the effect of these changes?
Use the following questions to guide your analysis:
What is the rhetorical situation for each text? (audience, context, purpose, etc.) How might the demographics of readers or viewers affect the presentation of information?
What are the genres of each text? How do the genre differences affect the presentation of the information? What benefits or drawbacks are tied to each genre?
How subtly or obviously are claims stated in each (and how accurately)? How do the scientists, reporters, writers, and other media creators state the significance of their claims? How does this compare to how news media (or other science writers’) accounts state the significance of the claims? How implicit or explicit are the claims? How do the reporters state the significance of the story? What language do they use? If applicable, how are features such as tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. used to convey ideas? What perspectives or bias are present in each text?
How are non-specialists accommodated in the media piece(s)? Consider how the sources make nuanced or intricate information more accessible to the audience. Do they provide definitions, provide context to the situation, or is there an assumption that the audience understands the background of the story? What changes do you notice across the texts and why are these changes made? What changes in phrasing are added, removed, or modified between sources? Why are these changes made? Does the meaning change when these rhetorical changes are made?
What additional sources or information are used by the different sources? For example, who else is brought into the conversation, interviewed, or quoted?
Are there important components that are omitted in any of the stories? What are they and what effect do they have?
What differences in values (such as objectivity)are suggested by the different interpretations?
Essay Guidelines
Write an essay based on your analysis where you accomplish the following:
Introduce the issue/situation accurately and define the significance of the issue for your readers.
Briefly and formally introduce your three main primary texts. For option 1 it is two popular media stories and the original scientific study. For option 2 it is the three news stories on the same issue from left-, center-, and right-leaning organizations.
Identify and explain the similarities and differences across your texts, making sure to explain the significance of those similarities/differences you analyzed. This can also mean identifying different approaches, tones, use of evidence, and content.
An original argument or conclusion based on your analysis. In other words, after having completed the analysis what can you conclude about scientific accommodation or news media bias? What key rhetorical choices seem more important or significant to the audience's understanding of information? What would you argue is the most significant finding you made in your analysis?
A Works Cited for the essay, and in-text citations for any quotes, summaries, or paraphrasing done in the essay.
IMPORTANT: Introduce all sources cited, such as, University of Maryland English Professor Jeanne Fahnstock, in her 1998 essay, claims “—-quote——”, instead of just name-dropping (Fahnestock) with no source details after quotes/paraphrases.
The essay portion (not including a required, separate, Works Cited page, in MLA format) should range between 1200-1500 words. (5-7 pages – MLA format: double spaced text, 12 pt Times New Roman font, indented paragraphs, page numbers)

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