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Literature & Language
English (U.S.)
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How Free Are the American Media? Literature & Language Essay (Essay Sample)


Anderson Cooper: More Actor Than Reporter? Fake green screen "on location" reportage is one example of how the corporate media can tinker with "reality" to sway public opinion.

Essay Two: How Free Are the American Media?
In his letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, written in 1887, Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
Most of us have heard the first part of this quotation, but not the second. It raises some interesting questions about the nature of power, particularly within the framework of government and business. It harkens back to the age-old aphorism, “ A love of money is the root of all evil.” Obviously, wealth and power tend to compliment each other. Many would argue that each carries a gravitational force that attracts the other.
In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins describes his indoctrination, duties and subsequent disenchantment with the National Security Agency—specifically in relation to the way this organization has targeted the economies of developing countries as a way to raise capital and forward US foreign policy goals. Many of these goals were (and continue to be) covert, meaning they have not been disclosed to the American public . . . at least until 2004, when the book was first published. Perkins’ narrative takes on the form of a “confessional” by telling us for the first time precisely how these operations have been carried out in the past.
Research a historical event that is present in Perkins’ book, and then expand upon it with some research. You don’t need to use details found within the assigned chapters in the book. The whole thing is at your disposal. This assignment is designed to encourage you to snoop around in other parts of the book. So by all means, don’t restrict yourself to the assigned readings.
Please keep in mind that your paper is not simply a book report on the historical event in question. Rather, it is an analysis of the way this event was either "spun" in the mainstream US media, or reported fairly and accurately. The Panama Invasion and replacing Noriega, is perhaps the easiest topic to analyze in this regard. The installation of the Shaw in Iran is another. A third might center around 9/11.
This said, anything is fair game, so if you find an event described in one of the chapters in Perkins' book. Just take care to make sure you can find a solid and detailed outside source on the event before you commit to writing about it. You can use EBSCO Host in our college library computer database for that outside source, or you can look on the Internet. If you do use the Internet, try to find a site that presents concrete details to support the author's argument rather than hearsay or mere opinion.
Please do remember that your essay should focus its primary attention on media coverage rather than simply narrating a historical event in your own words. While you will need to summarize the event briefly, this aspect of your essay should be no more than 20% of the overall word count. Do not attempt to summarize the event in your introduction.
The proper place for catching up the reader on background information is in your essay's body. As always, feel welcome to pick either side of the argument: in other words, it's fine to write about how media coverage of a particular event functioned autonomously from undue bias and thus was "free," in your opinion. Regardless of which point of view you take in your third person narrative, be sure to back up your argument with plenty of concrete details presented logically and methodically. And, of course, you should make your case entirely in the THIRD PERSON. No first person or second person narratives will be allowed on Essay Two or Essay Three.
*As always, never assume your reader is familiar with the information your are writing about. Rather, assume your reader does not know about it. PCC requests that all research papers in WR 121 should be written from this basic standpoint.
Aside from the topic, here are the basic requirements of Essay Two:
• Make reference to John Perkins at least once and paraphrase or cite information about the tragic event as it is presented in his book.
• Find 2 additional outside sources (different from Perkins) and weave it into your expose. What is the official explanation that was offered by the American media during the time period when it happened? Did this differ from coverage in other countries? Although I truly love it when people find articles from international papers that were published when these events happened . . . . here is my concession to the obvious difficulty posed by locating articles in other languages and countries: If you have problems digging up international coverage at the time, then feel free to fall back on independent media sources in America that have come out with documentaries and articles in the meantime. Perkins book is a fairly good example of information about Anglo-American imperialism leaking out through the major media (Plume books is a subsidiary of Penguin, one of the largest publishers in the world). When Perkins was working for MAIN as an economic hit man, US media coverage at the time did not expose much of what was happening in this regard; however, since the 1970’s, scores of other books and documentaries have explored what really happened in this regard. All of the information from these sources are fair game to use in your paper. Any of them can count as your additional outside source.
• The longer the essay, the longer and more developed the introduction and the conclusion should be. Remember not to tack on a short one paragraph as an introduction, or a hasty conclusion. Balance out your essay to reflect the longer length with a proportionately adjusted introduction and conclusion.
• Please include a thesis statement, strong evidence to support a basic thesis statement (see Chapter 28 in Hacker’s Pocket Style Manual). Your thesis statement will be easier to support if you choose an event that shows obvious negligence or indicates some form of covert complicity on the part of the press (in relation to the CIA’s and the NSA’s agenda).
• Do not use first person or second person anywhere in this paper. Rather, you should endeavor to write in a journalistic style that “lets the facts speak for themselves.”< /span>
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” He also felt strongly that the most effective way to pacify a nation is through the mass media. In fact, Jefferson even went so far as to say that a despotic government always keeps “a kind of standing army of news writers who, without any regard to truth, or to what should be like truth, [fabricate] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.”
Click here for more of Jefferson's quotes regarding the press.
One Additional Requirement: Somewhere in your paper, please reference Jefferson’s sentiment in one of his quotes about a free press, and discuss any light it sheds on American press coverage surrounding the event you have chosen (at the time it happened). Including a paraphrase or direct quote from Jefferson in your paper is an additional requirement beyond the two outside sources. If you forget to include it, you will be docked content points.
If you feel a little rusty or unclear about how to introduce sources (something which is normally taught in WR 121), there's no harm in reading the optional paragraph (directly below).
Signal phrases can be defined as: A word or words that introduce information from someone else. A signal phrase or a lead-in phrase comes before a quotation, paraphrase, or summary, and it includes citation information, like the author’s name, title of the source, the year the source was published. The word or words “signal” to the reader that the writer is using someone else’s ideas, and it “leads in” to the new information. So, signal phrases: ● Avoid quotations put between your words, or “dropped quotations.” ○ Example (no signal phrase): Some have argued that these personality traits are pre-existing, not brought on by their partner. “Individuals who have impulsive or aggressive personality traits will be likely to engage in dating aggression” (Ray). ○ Example (signal phrase): Some have argued that these personality traits are pre-existing, not brought on by their partner. Northern Illinois University psychologists Amy L. Ray and Steven R. Gold point out, “Individuals who have impulsive or aggressive personality traits will be likely to engage in dating aggression” (Ray). ● Often include background on the source being used, such as credentials. ○ Example: Catherine M. Soussloff, University of California Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, discusses the ritual of Pollock’s technique… [This paragraph was borrowed from Purdue University's website. There is more information at the following link: https://owl(dot)english(dot)purdue(dot)edu/owl/resource/563/1/ ]

Rewrite Option
This essay is not eligible for rewrite.
Penalty for Late Submission: If you have extenuating circumstances (such as a grave illness), you must send me an email at least three (3) days before the due date. Please note that there is a two day grace period in which you can hand in your work up to 48 hours late with no penalty to your grade. However, if you chose to take this extra time, please be aware that you will receive no written instructor feedback on your essay. If you wish to schedule a telephone conference about your essay, that is certainly an option.
Here is the penalty chart for late submissions of Essay One:
• 24 hours or less after the grace period cut-off time/date 1% deducted from grade
• 24-48 hours after grace period cut-off time/date
• 48-120 hours (2-5 days) after grace period cut-off time/date: 10% deducted from grade
• 120-168 hours (one week) after grace period cut-off time/date: 20% deducted from grade
• No submissions for this essay will be accepted later than one week after the cut-off date/time. Late submissions will receive NO comments from the instructor--only a grade.
Posting Essay Final Drafts and Peer Review Drafts
Please remember that I do not check to see that your essay has posted correctly if asked in an email. It is your responsibility to see that your essay has posted correctly. This same principle applies to any assignment. Always check to see that your work has posted. In your posts, include a text box copy as well as a backup attachment. Students emailing me to check for them to see if their essay has posted in the assignment area will be politely asked to check this fact for themselves. Checking to see if an assignment has posted is very easy to do. If you are having technical difficulties with your computer in relation to Blackboard (our online system) please contact tech support at Chemeketa. Thank you!
Technical Specifications
1. Word count: 1,200-word minimum/1,500-word maximum. Essays which fail to meet the minimum word count will not receive comments, only a grade.
2. 12 point font
3. Avoid run-ons, fragments, comma splices, and dangling modifiers LIKE THE PLAGUE
4. Title should be centered two spaces under header; body left justified with one of the following: block formatted paragraphs with one extra blank line between them, or, paragraphs indented 5 spaces with no extra lines between them
5. Header in the upper left that includes the following:
Your name (The name that appears in the class grade book. Do NOT change your first or last name from what appears in D2L!)
Precise word count
Essay One
6. Please note: To determine a precise word count, high light your text (aside from the header), then use the “tools” pull-down menu and go to “word count.”
*Please note: I do not reward length over content in essays. Quality is infinitely more important than quantity. Just because you write a really long paper, this won’t guarantee a high grade.


Course Code:
How Free Are the American Media? Case study of the American media coverage of the murder of Jaimes Roldos
Jaime Roldos was the youngest south American president by the time he was elected. According to Perkins, he was assassinated two years into his first term and he was replaced by his vice president Hurtado. The coverage of the story in Ecuador was largely connected to CIA assassination. However, the American media mentioned very little or nothing about it. The coverage of Jaime Roldos story is juxtaposed with Samora Machel who was also assassinated in the 80s and how the two presidents of developing nations were covered in the US media, particularly the NYTimes. True to Perkin’s words, the world outcry was CIA Assassination but the US media barely covered the event at all. This raises the questions of media impartiality in the united states. Some of the ways to tell if the American media is biased or is not truly fair on international issues is to look at the number of mentions a certain story of international importance got. How detailed and factual was the coverage? How many articles were published on the issue? And what was the narrative being propagated by the author/media house about the story.

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