Coming to Terms with My News

I went back and looked at what we have read this so far during this course. I like to do that because the readings always seem to click a little better after class discussion. I went all the way back to the first reading “Coming to Terms” by Joseph Harris. He suggests asking three questions about a reading:

1. Aims– What is the writer trying to achieve?
2. Methods– How does the writer relate examples to ideas?
3. Materials– Where does the writer go for examples and evidence?

I have to confess when I read the news on my laptop in the mornings, I do not really come to terms with what I am reading. Shame on me. It is probably one of the most important times for me to question what I am reading. So, this morning I decided to change my ways and really come to terms with what I was reading.

You have to see it to believe it!

You have to see it to believe it!

CNN is always one of the sources I go to for my news, and the first story I read was about the amazingly hot heat wave in California. So what was the aim of the author of this story? The obvious answer is to inform the public of the heatwave, but it does come right after the presidents speech on global warming. The timing serves to reinforce the warnings about global warming. I am having a little trouble distinguishing between the methods and the materials. They ranged from images to interviews with residents and emergency officials. There was also a mention of the National Weather Services record for highest temperature, 134 degrees, at Death Valley in 1913 (that is just stupid hot). The use of credible sources like the CDC, the National Weather Service, and paramedics and police departments.

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One thought on “Coming to Terms with My News

  1. Scott Reed says:

    Katie,

    Let me help a bit. In looking at the posts on the heatwave, you could say that the materials being used would include things like photos from the area, National Weather Service info, etc. One thing about journalism is that its materials are, as often as humanly possible, factual information from the source. When news abandons those materials and relies not on primary but secondary sources, you get the well-known “echo tunnel” effect (see Fox News).

    As for methods, think about the difference between a citizen journalist and a pro. Both have access to the same materials (in this increasing digital age), but what separates the two is method. The journalist confirms sources, tries to see multiple angles on a story, asks the “so what” question about what he/she writes. A citizen journalist (almost like your funny aside towards the end) may be more interested in reporting their own private experience; they may not use methods in their research or in their writing that journalists have been trained to use. (See my note on your use of personal pronouns in your Google Glass post for a little more context.)

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