1. To demonstrate an ability to critically assess crime stories in the mass media using knowledge disseminated in the course.
2. To demonstrate an ability to apply sociological theory to media content.
Choosing an article
You may use 2 stories about crime or deviance from any mass media source. You may use newspapers, magazines, or electronic sources for your critique. I would like copies of your crime stories attached to the paper. The best articles to assess are those that take a strong position and contain sufficient information that you can reasonably complete this assignment. That is, articles of only one paragraph are generally inappropriate.
Once you have chosen your articles, you should briefly describe them. Where did you get them? What is the name of the publication, the title, and the author? Identify the main message contained in them. Are these descriptions of specific incidents, or explanations of a series of incidents? Are they opinion pieces in a news column, or simply reports of crime or deviance?
In the analysis section, you should be critical and draw upon sociological theory and research methods. Identify whether the authors are suggesting that incidents of crime and deviance are increasing or decreasing. Are the articles suggesting that control policies need to change? If so, what kinds of changes are advocated? Explain whether you believe that these are reasonable changes. Implicit and explicit bias on the part of the authors should be identified. Most stories on crime and deviance contain logic that is also found in sociological theory. Identify which theoretical logic is used in order to critique each story. Remember, an objective of this course is to be critical consumers of information. Given that many readers may casually read these articles, what is problematic about them?
You will be evaluated on the basis of your ability to critically assess a piece of mass media and to use sociological theory in a practical fashion. You must also pay attention to the following finishing details in the “Assignment Checklist” below.