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What you’re doing: This essay involves a line by line deconstruction of Brian Th

by | Jun 22, 2022 | Communications and Media | 0 comments


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What you’re doing: This essay involves a line by line deconstruction of Brian Thevenot’s article to assess the story’s credibility. While you read it, consider these questions:
Do the headline and lead support the story’s main points?
Is the evidence supporting the main points of the story verified?
Is the evidence direct or indirect?
Is any information assumed or asserted?
Does the reporter make his work transparent? (Does he say how he knows what he knows, and acknowledge what he doesn’t or might not know?)
By the end of the story, are the key questions answered? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
Are the main points put in context?
Does the reporter allow emotional elements to cloud facts?
Is the story fair?
Ultimately, is the story credible?
Once you finish “Katrina’s body count could reach 10,000,” please read the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Myth Making in New Orleans” by Brian Thevenot and then Maria Konnikova’s piece on the power of a narrative, particularly a personal and emotionally jarring one. While it is critical to show an understanding of the reporter’s failures as laid out in the CJR’s “mea culpa” article, it is equally important to think about how “Katrina body count could reach 10,000” relates to the ideas presented in the Konnikova article. How does Konnikova’s premise that compelling and shocking stories can be a powerful tool of deception apply to the inherent problems with “Katrina’s body count could reach 10,000.” Incorporating course readings in your broader analysis is a fundamental building block for the final paper, which will require you to put different readings and ideas into a kind of “dialogue” with you own original work.
Your 600-700 word essay should be an analysis about why this story is not credible and why the reporter and many other news outlets and readers believed the unsubstantiated reports of rape and murder in New Orleans. Start with a compelling opening line and then briefly explain what the story was about, ending this introductory paragraph with a thesis explaining why this story is not credible. Follow that introduction/thesis with coherent paragraphs that present evidence for your assessment.
One paragraph should look at the verification process. Look for specific examples from the story to answer key questions like: What is the direct/indirect evidence presented by the reporter? Did the reporter verify key facts? What don’t you know? Does that hurt the story’s credibility?
In another paragraph, evaluate the sources in the story. Are the sources credible? Do they verify or assert? In subsequent paragraphs, you could explore other key news literacy concepts like transparency, fairness and the power of “myths” as Thevenot describes them. At some point, you should ask (and then answer) what clouded the reporter’s judgment and why he did not follow journalistic best practices.
Explore one overarching idea per paragraph, kicked off with a topic sentence (Point). Don’t just assert or make lists: Present specific evidence, and consider what it means (P-E-A: Point, Evidence, Analysis.) No first person. This essay should be written in the third person. You must also include four quotes from our readings using MLA style.* One must be from the “Mythmaking” article, one from the “How Stories Deceive” article and two others can be from any other readings that relate to the verification process to show you are synthesizing the theory in our readings with our classwork.

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