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COM 101 - Marissa Pytlak-Surdyke, PhD : Home

Media Literacy

Media Literacy Assignment

Task: For this assignment you will apply the media literacy skills you learned and practice being a critical media consumer. Please reference the readings in your written assignment.

Step 1: Locate an online news article from a local or national reputable news source ( The news article you find should be a report, not an editorial or an opinion column (think CNN, USAToday, MSNBC, WKBW, Buffalo News, etc).  Once you have located the article, please read it with a critical perspective by asking yourself these following questions  

o   Who created the message?

o   What are the author’s credentials?

o   Why was the message created?

o   Is the message trying to get me to act or think in a certain way?

o   Is someone making money for creating this message?

o   Who is the intended audience?

o   How do I know this information is accurate?


Step 2. Write a reaction paper (Word Doc) to the article you located by addressing the following:

· Link: On the top of the page provide a link to the newspaper article

· Summary: Briefly summarize the article

· Critique: Your critique/evaluation will have several parts as described in the reading:

o   Author: Consider who is presenting the information. Is it a news organization, a corporation, or an individual? What links do they have to the information they are providing? A news station might be owned by the company it is reporting on; likewise, an individual might have financial reasons for supporting a certain message. What are the author’s credentials?

o   Format: Television and print media often use images to grab people’s attention. Do the visuals only present one side of the story? Is the footage overly graphic or designed to provoke a specific reaction? Which celebrities or professionals are endorsing this message?

o   Audience: Who is the intended audience? Is the message trying to change the thoughts of a certain group of people? Imagine yourself in another’s shoes. Would someone of the opposite gender feel the same way as you do about this message? How might someone of a different race or nationality feel about it? How might an older or younger person interpret this information differently? Was this message made to appeal to a specific audience?

o   Content: Even content providers that try to present information objectively can have an unconscious slant. Analyze who is presenting this message. Does he or she have any clear political affiliations? Is he or she being paid to speak or write this information? What unconscious influences might be at work?

o   Purpose: Nothing is communicated by mass media without a reason. What reaction is the message trying to provoke? Are you being told to feel or act a certain way? Examine the information closely and look for possible hidden agendas.

· Comparison: Find your newspaper article about the same topic/issue/event in a different newspaper (be sure to tell us what newspaper).  If you chose a local news source above, try to choose a national news source to compare it to. You do not have to do the entire critique of this article, but read through it and describe two differences you found in how the news story was framed? Was the headline different? Did it quote different people? Does it seem to have the same or a different agenda and how do you know? Provide evidence (citations from the newspaper).


Important Requirements:

· Word document: 12 point, times new roman font, 1 inch margins, double spaced, include headings

· Your critique needs to provide evidence from the article.  For example, if you are claiming the article has an agenda of some sort, you need to argue why you think that and provide evidence from the article (a quote or specific language) that demonstrates this; if you think the author is credible, again, tell us why you think that (i.e what are his/her credentials?).

· Cite the course readings (at least one citation is required, but you should have more)


Information adopted from:


Niagara County Community College. Henrietta G. Lewis Library. 3111 Saunders Settlement Rd., Sanborn, NY 14132 | 716-614-6786