the mass media performance, propaganda and censorship.
The introductory paragraph should be a complete paragraph (five to six sentences) and contain a coherent and articulate thesis statement. The thesis statement should be contextualized accordingly (i.e. the research topic and case study contextualized within the
mass media performance, propaganda and censorship). Furthermore, students’ papers should be detailed, informative, and interesting. Providing a generic introduction before stating the thesis statement is unacceptable. The introductory paragraph should reflect students have conducted their research and can provide some foundational informational details before introducing their thesis statement.
The works cited page must contain ten sources: five (five) different alternative media sources and five (five) different mass media sources. Sources provided for class may be used for research paper purposes, but they do not count as their minimal five (five) different alternative media sources and five (five) different mass media sources.
1) Determine your research topic and case study first. A research topic is broad; whereas a case study is specific. For example, homelessness in the United States is a research topic; whereas homelessness in Los Angeles, California is a case study. Without determining a case study first, students will find it difficult to determine and proceed with their research methodology. If studentscannot think of a case study, then peruse through the Class Reader, Part 6, alternative media sources for generating potential ideas.
2) Student’s case study must be current (within ten years). Older case studies will be considered a history, media (film) studies paper. There may, or will, be historical components in your paper that provide greater depth, analysis, and context to your academic narrative.
3) A student’s case study will ultimately determine their research methodologies.
4) If a student’s case study pertains to a contemporary issue, then clearly define the mass media source, the medium of media, and time frame for analyzing mass media performance. For instance, if a student’s case study is homelessness in the City of Los Angeles, then a student might analyze the mass media performance of the Los Angeles Times (specific mass media source) website (medium of media is Internet) from 01/01/12 to 12/31/12. Keep in mind, in order to determine whether or not a mass media pattern (ideological narrative) plausibly exists, students will need to research and analyze the mass media performance for a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time should be six months or more at minimum. Analyzing the mass media performance of how often The Los Angeles Times covers homelessness in the City of Los Angeles for one day, or even one week, is not reasonableuless, however, the issue is a hot topic (less than five months).
5) If a student chooses a particular film for their case study, then that particular film must have been released within the past ten years. In the paper, do not forget to mention the director, film’s distributer, as well as the film’s release date in the introductory paragraph.
1) The paper’s thesis statement should provide a hypothesis and contextualize a student’s research topic and case study accordingly (i.e. United States mass and alternative media performances, censorship and propaganda).
2) For instance, “Thismass media studies research paper will compare and contrast the United States (U.S.) mass media performance of The Los Angeles Times from 10/01/2013 to 04/01/2014 and alternative media sources in order to determine whether or not the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles, California has been censored and/or propagandized in The Los Angeles Times.”
6) Research methodology and analysis will vary. Students’research papers may or may not have a blended methodological approach of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Your case study, however, will determine the approach, focus, and application of your research methods.
• Approach comprehendsthe institutional analysis (internal/external) of the mass media performance and the institutional relationships they operate within.
o An internal mass media analysis would focus on the internalinstitutional relationships they operate within; whereas, anexternal mass media analysis would focus on audience/viewer perspectives in the interpretative process of the disseminated narrative texts.
• Focus/concentration is dependent on a student’s case study and information accessibility. Some research papers will proportionally focus on both the internal and external analysis; whereas other research papers might focus disproportionately on either the internal analysis or the external analysis. For example, if a student’s case study isthe documentary, War on Democracy (2007) by John Pilger, a virtually inaccessible (censored) film in the United States (U.S.) mass media landscape, then a student’s paper would focus on the textual and content analysis of the film’s narrative in relationship to the internal factors ofthe mass media performance, the involved “actors”purportedly censoring the film, and the institutional relationships the mass media operates within (see: Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model – application). If information for a student’s case study is highly accessible in the mass media landscape, then the student’s focus would be proportional (internal and external analysis). In addition, students shouldconcentrate on the mass media performance of the case study and how the public consumed and interpreted the disseminated messages within the mass media landscape.
• See the following page for a flow chart reflecting some analysis of the American mass media performance of the film, War on Democracy (2007). Keep in mind, there are no examples of alternative media sources covering the film. For research paper purposes, students will be comparing and contrasting mass and alternative media performances for plausible patterns of censorship and propaganda in the American mass media landscape.
o Note: the following is example of some analysis. Therefore, the narrative on the following page in incomplete.
• Two additional examples follow:
i. If a student’s case study was the M.P.A.A.C.A.R.A. ratings system (research topic) and why the film Blue Valentine(2010) received an NC-17 rating (case study), then a student’sapplied methodology would concentrate on the mass medias’ institutional relationships between all the actors contributing to the film’s NC-17 rating (“prior restraint” – a form of censorship). Presumed actors would be theM.P.A.A. C.A.R.A., the film studio and distributor, the film’s director, the National Association of Theaters Owners (NATO), and a public relations firm-if applicable. Analyzing the intuitional relationships between all the actors would plausiblydemonstrate the particularities of the film’s performance in the mass media landscape (internal analysis). Externally, students would focus on thepublic’saccessibility of the film and how the film was portrayed in the mass media landscape (e.g. advertising sources, film reviews sources, film critiques, and box office revenues).Students’ papers, nonetheless, could include an internal and external analysis (the production-content-audience process).
ii. If a student’s case study was homelessness in Los Angeles, California (case study), then the student’sapplied methodology would concentrate on the internal mass media institutional relationships between all of the contributing “actors” such as: media owners, types of advertisements, public relations firms if any, etc. In this particular case, the Propaganda Model should be applied accordingly to the mass media performance with the understanding that homeless people qualify as “unworthy” victims(internal analysis).Demonstrating the mass media performance of the case study, homelessness in Los Angeles, California means articulating how the mass media portrayed the case study in the mass media landscape,conducting a textual and content analysis of the source-text narratives, and demonstrate the audience perspective in the interpretive process(external analysis).
7) Students should incorporate and apply everything they have thus far learned in class when researching, comparing and contrasting (mass and alternative) media sourceswhile analyzing the mass media performance of their case study.
8) Consider whether or not there are interlocking relationships between sources, particular individuals, organizations, institutions, think tanks, agencies, and/or other
“actors.” If so, what and/or who are they? Clearly articulate theinstitutional and operational relationships and demonstratetheir roles in procuring coded and filtered information, messages, images, data, etc. (propaganda) and their complicity in censoring information.
9) Identify noticeable disparities and consistencies (patterns) in terms of the depth of quality, proportionality, frequency, and kind of information between the mass and alternative media sources. Is there a noticeable pattern of mass media performance that constitutes as propaganda and/or censorship? Comparing a sample representation of alternative and mass media sources, plausibly, will answer this question.
10) Students should make sure all articulated analysis and statements are qualified in their papers. That means providing supporting details and example sentences when rendering analysis. In other words, do not conjecture and state personal opinions in the paper. Remember, personal opinions should be in the conclusionary paragraphand only be based on the information and analysis within the research paper.
11) Consider, if applicable, whether or not the public relations industry factors into the mass media performance of students’ research topic & case study? If so, how? And, to what extent?
12) If a public relations (PR)firm is a principle “actor” in a student’s case study, then identify the P.R. client(s), the PR techniques used in generating various forms of propaganda and censorship – apply what was learned from Toxic Sludge Is Good For You. Are thereinterlocking relationships betweenapublic relations firm(s) and their clients, think tanks, front groups, Astroturf organizations, and/or federal or state governmentalagencies that demonstrate credence to the production of propaganda and/or censorship? Did a public relations firm, on behalf of its client, deploy VNR’s, b-rolls, or press releases that were somehow integrated into the mass media landscape? If so, what were the messages and the dominant ideologies within? And, how did this happen?
13) Students should apply the Propaganda Model to their research topic and case study. That includes all of the five filters, the concept of worthy and unworthy victims in relationship to quality, quantity, and proportionality; if necessary, legitimatizing meaningless elections in third world countries (the five conditions of “demonstrations elections), the criterion of utility and disinformation, and the doctrine of marginalization. This should be at least one to two paragraphs in the research paper.
14) Students should examine texts for logical fallaciesand forms of media distraction techniques during the textual and content analysis process. Commonmedia distraction logical fallacies include: Nationalism, Straw Man Argument, Scapegoating, Phenomenon, Google Bombing andGoogle Washing, as well as the False Dichotomy of Binary Constructions (see Beachboard, “Course Documents” for a review of logical fallacies commonly employed in the production of media texts evident in the mass media landscape).
15) Remember, students need at least five different alternative and mass media sources that are NOT part of the course required reading materials. Be certain to utilize alternative media sources. For example, smaller newspapers, Internet websites, and other media sources are frequently owned by larger mass media companies. Students will need to further research unfamiliar media companies in order to determine what type of source it is (i.e. mass or alternative media). Academic journals and government documents are NOT alternative media sources unless they meet extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances, for instance, might be government documents that were initially or arecensored, but are presently public as a result of Freedom of Information Act request.Academic journals very rarely get censored, but recall that the general public does not have access to academic journals; only students, researchers, faculty, and administration have access.
16) Blogs do not count as alternative and mass media sources unless they meet extenuating circumstances. Bloggers are problematic for the reasons articulated in the class lecture covering Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, Chapters 10-12 -refer to the Andrew Breitbart blogger reporting on the purported ACORN, the Sherry Sherrod, and Planned Parenthood (2015) scandals. In addition, it is not uncommon for PR firms, companies and “third-parties” to hire bloggers to produce favorable narratives benefiting their client(s) position(s).
17) The C.S.U.L.B. library has extremely limited alternative media sources. Therefore, review the Class Reader, Part 6 for additional alternative media sources and potential resource leads. Remember, there is a stark difference between a database encompassing alternative media sources as opposed to alternative media sources themselves. Databases are limited to the spectrum of sources they encompass; whereas alternative media sources are extensive, and exist well beyond the depth and scope of a database.
18) Students are required to have at least five different mass and alternative media sources. At minimum, students will have at least ten references for the works cited page.
19) Students should make sure their sources donot cite other sources. Resource diversity (media plurality) and consistency in students’ comparativetextual and content analysis (horizontal plurality)is extremely important for legitimizing, delegitimizing, invalidating, and validating statements as well as rendering conclusions.
20) Quotes from sources should not replace students written words. Learn to paraphrase.Too many quotes in students’ research papers indicate not enough research and writing was conducted.This means, consequentially, fewer points will be earned for failing to meet the minimum writing requirement.
21) Students must be very specific and provide a lotof details! Do not assume your reader already comprehends the subject matter. Furthermore, avoid using simple nouns, verbs, adjectives, noun phrases, verbal phrases, and adjective phrases in academic writing. Students’ writing proficiencies should reflect upper division college courseskills and standards.
22) Students should focus on their case study when writing their papers. It is very easy to be encumbered with ancillary related information. Concentrating on the case study will help eliminate this potential pitfall as well as mitigate becoming distracted with extra details and writing off topic – a common error.
23) Students should be media literate with their analysis and refrain from making oversimplified generalizations. In addition, sound, rational, logical, and coherent conclusions should come at the end of the research paper, not beforehand. Conclusions are based on theinformation contained within the research paper. This is a reiteration and reminder.
24) IMPORTANT – after the conclusionary paragraph, students must write a one paragraph narrative detailing how theirresearch could be improved upon as well as some self-identifiable flaw(s) in the research methodology, analysis, and conclusion. This is not a paragraph for confessing haste in any aspect of the research paper process. This paragraph should be titled: “For Future Consideration”.
25) Always proof your paper accordingly. Check and edit the content for organizational errors (introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion). Check and edit for grammatical errors (sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement errors, noun/pronoun device errors, and proper word form usage). Furthermore, check and edit for mechanical errors (spelling errors, punctuation errors, capitalization errors, and paragraph structural problems). Remember, paragraphs should be five to six sentences in length and the final sentence(s) in the introductory paragraph should clearly articulate the thesis statement.
26) Research Paper Structure:
1) Introductory Paragraph
2) Background information about the case study
3) Mass media performance analysis of the case study
4) Alternative media performance analysis of the case study
5) Compare and contrast mass to alternative media performance of case study
6) Application of the Propaganda Model
8) For Future Consideration
27) The writing standards are proportionately valuedcompared to the research paper criteria. Meaning, well written research papers that do not adhere to the research paper criteria could easily earn the same grade as a poorly written research paper that does adhere to the research paper criteria.
28) Writing Reference Books: The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. orThe Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler.
29) If students need assistance with writing, then certain and limited free services from the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) are available at either the north campus library or the Department of English Writer’s Resource Lab. Location: LAB-206 or call (562) 985-4329 for an appointment.
30) Per class syllabus: Research Papers:Individual student research papers are worth twenty points (20% of overall grade). Students’ research papers must be eight to ten pages in length (excluding cover and works cited pages), have one-inch margins, be typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, be double-spaced, and be well written and edited in accordance to university standards for an upper-division course. All research papers and works cited pages should be in M.L.A. style and citation method only.
31) Students’ research papers must be turned in on Beachboard, via the course electronic drop box. Furthermore, students MUST label their document (i.e. research paper) as the following: “fea486_(initial of first name)_(last name)_RP”.
32) If students are still unclear after reviewing this handout, please contact the instructor via by email, phone, during office hours, or ask questions immediately after class.
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