Using Lonergan in an After-the-Fact World

The goals of our Analysis of a Contemporary National or International News Story Assignment are in blue font; the results are highlighted in brown font.

To put into practice Lonergan’s Transcendental Precepts
  1. One must be attentive and notice what each article says (gathering facts/information)

Students were required to take note of specific aspects of each news story and required to recognize any deviations in the presentation of the facts. They were further required to note their observations in detail and discuss the significance of these variations.

  1. One must ask questions, engaging with others and doing your own research into news stories will help you to gather the real facts and investigate them.

Engaging in a dialogue with their peers enabled them to compare their findings and also be exposed to variations of similar news stories. It also exposed them to news media outlets that they may not have been aware or been inclined to consult. We asked the students prior to this assignment where they typically get their news, and we noticed that many tend to stick to one news source – often a “soft” news such as Facebook and Twitter.

  1. One must think about the issues and causes that have led to the era of “untruths” is the first step towards having the necessary foundation to share this information with others and promote change, which is for the common good of all people. Recognizing our own part in this also is a step towards making changes for the common good of everyone. (Data shows that some news outlets report in ways, lean towards political views and promote bias that is demanded by their audience)

This assignment enabled them to recognize that many news media outlets have a bias in the way that they present the story. The ability to recognize this gives one the responsibility to distinguish the bias from the hard facts of the story.

  1. One must take an ethical stand against biased media and, instead, promote the gathering of real facts.

Students take a stand by rejecting certain news outlets over others based on their understanding of that outlet’s bias. They learn that getting to the hard facts is the right thing to do.

To connect to the theme of After the Fact and provide resources to recognize bias and “untruths”

Discussing this issue promotes critical thinking and awareness

Providing academic research into news bias enables students to examine the issue and come up with their own decision about it.

This assignment assists in fulfilling the following First Year Outcomes
  1. Rhetorical Knowledge

Especially in terms of the three major principles of rhetorical knowledge, pathos, logos, and ethos. Additionally, we introduced the concept of kairos, or timeliness.

  1. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Composing

Thinking critically about the news are how it is presented; make assessments through reading of these stories and the information presented by their peers; to compose their outcomes effectively.

  1. Knowledge of Conventions

This assignment was revised with input from Melinda Papaccio.

Robyn writes,

Not only was the assignment useful, but it  worked out perfectly as an initial assignment to segue into the written text analysis, into reading and analyzing written texts in terms of ethos, which is the focus of my second unit in 1201.

The Assignment Itself

Analysis of a National or International News Story Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate our news sources. I would like you to choose 3 news outlets, select a national or international news story, and then examine the way that the story is reported in each news outlet. Of the three news outlets, you must choose two from the list below. The third can be a news source of your own choosing, perhaps one where you frequently get your news.

News Outlet List:

MSNBC, BBC World News, CNN, Fox, NY Times, Washington Post

Please answer the following questions in complete sentences:


    1. What would happen if you only viewed one reporting of this story? Do you think that your perception of the story would have been different than it is after viewing these differing perspectives?
    2. Are the facts of the story distorted from one news outlet to the next?  Please explain why or why not?
    1. Are there differences in language?  For example, are they saying the same thing in different ways? Please provide examples from each.
    2. Have elements of the story been omitted or has information been added? For example, what does one news outlet include that another one does not and vice versa?
    3. What images does each news outlet include? Are these images bias in any way?  Please support your perspective.
    4. After looking at the many ways in which this story has been portrayed, do you feel as though you have gotten “the full story”? Is the story clear, or do you feel confused about what actually occurred?
    5. How does the different reporting on these stories affect your interpretation or understanding of the validity of news as a source of information?
    6. Do you think that each news outlet is making an argument about an issue instead of reporting on the story?

Analysis of a National or International News Story Assignment Follow-up Assignment

In-Class Writing Assignment

Please answer the following questions in complete sentences:

  1. Do you follow the news? If so, what form of media is your news source? If not, please explain why you do not follow the news?
  2. After completing the Analysis of a National or International News Story Assignment and taking part in the class discussion, has your view of news media changed? Please explain why or why not?
  3. If a course or a job required that you keep up on current events and breaking news but your source needed to be “free” of bias, where would you obtain this information? Please explain why?
  4. What factors do or could influence the integrity of those that report the news?
  5. Do you think that people’s beliefs can be influenced or even controlled by the news media?

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