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Critical Media Analysis (CMA)
Critical Media Analysis (CMA)
Length: 8 doublespaced pages
The Critical Media Analysis assignment is a conceptual and critical analysis of media coverage
of Latin America. You are required to choose a sample piece of mainstream journalism from any
of the dominant global corporate media outlets and examine it critically according to the criteria
outlined below. There are some examples you can use to just get an idea of how something like
this can be done here:
And here’s an example of critical media analysis in reference to the work of mainstream global
NGOs like Human Rights Watch or a global corporation like Monsanto:
The Monsanto Protection Plan
Although not related to Latin American politics directly, the example of how an organization like
Wikileaks is being portrayed by a Hollywood movie corporation and, in turn, how Wikileaks is
responding is useful as is the example of Hollywood portrayals of Native American indigenous
peoples. Find them here:
Wikileaks Slams the “Fifth Estate”
(For background on the film and a bit of background on Wikileak’s own reaction, see here
Hollywood’s Native American narrative
Although you can also use a “factchecking”
model of media analysis just to get the gist of this
exercise, as it is done here:
Bear in mind that you are not writing a “factchecking”
paper, but a “conceptchecking”
is, an analysis that seeks to uncover the conceptual and theoretical assumptions of a piece of
media on Latin American politics.
Instead of examining “the facts” – as in some of the examples provided – what you need to do
for this assignment then is to analyze, using at least one case of “news” journalism by addressing
(in no particular order), the following questions:
1) What is found in the media source and how it is presented: the type of language or political
symbolism, the meanings that are given to people, events or institutions, the interpretations of
what is going on.
2) What is attempted in the media source: the objective of journalism, after all, is to persuade the
public in some way. Since you’re analyzing dominant media sources, these sources are deeply
invested in a construction of reality that conforms to the fundamental requirements of power.
What happens to “reality” when it is commodified for sale, packaged for consumption by the
“average” person and delivered in the quickest and most compact of ways?
3) Finally, what is not presented particularly from a conceptual or theoretical perspective? This
last question is the most important of all and the one to develop more fully. And to do that you
must make use of what you have learned in this course, readings or other academic sources
(alternatives, reviews) for analysis and interpretation: historical, structural issues, questions of
ideological power relations, social struggles, etc. You should not attempt to fall back on your
own thoughts on underlying theory or concepts or your own guesses as to the form or aims of
media reporting. There are critical scholarly books written on the subjects covered by
mainstream corporate media and you’re expected to demonstrate some or good knowledge of
A scholarly example of critical media analysis is Anthony DiMaggio ’s When Media Goes to
War. Please read the blurb here to get an idea of what he does and how he does it:
https://tinyurl.com/bttgo9h . Note how he uses the work of Antonio Gramsci and his concept of
hegemony plus drawing upon the works of Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, and Robert
McChesney in order to carry out a rigorous critical analysis media news and propaganda
constructions of the imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of course, you’re not supposed to write a book like this, but you’re required to draw from
scholarly sources (like DiMaggio does from Gramsci, Chomsky, Herman and McChesney) in
order to inform your analysis of media sources.
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