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Guides

COMM 2044: Political Communication: Project 1

Dr. Heather Roy, Fall 2018

Assignment

The BuzzFeed Project

Political Communication COMM:2044

Total Points Possible: 150 (100 article/50 presentation)

The purpose of this short paper and presentation is to practice communicating scholarly information from the field of Political Communication to a broad audience. This assignment asks that you consult peer-reviewed academic journal articles on a political communication-related topic of your choice, and synthesize the information in a BuzzFeed-type of submission. In doing so, you will need to highlight the most interesting and relevant information, and communicate it to an audience that is not familiar with the field in an engaging manner. So far this semester, we have discussed American’s lack of political knowledge. This assignment is an opportunity for you to show off your communication skills and increase the general public’s knowledge about politics and the U.S. government. Feel free to engage your audience in creative ways by combining content and pictures, GIFs, or other elements that are appropriate and suitable for this purpose.

Regardless of your chosen topics, you must follow these guidelines

  • Minimum of 5 scholarly sources.
  • These must come from peer-reviewed scholarly journals in the field of Communication.
  • All sources must be related to one central topic or question (i.e.; “What is deliberative democracy?” “Everything you need to know about the Electoral College” “Why should Americans be aware of voter ID laws?” “10 ways social media impacts U.S. elections” “Who actually writes politicians’ speeches?”)
  • You must provide a typed reference page that follows MLA or APA style guidelines.
  • You must have in-text citations that follow MLA or APA style guidelines.
  • BE SURE TO PROOFREAD – proper grammar, spelling, and structure must be demonstrated.
  • Create your post using BuzzFeed’s community page with this link where you can easily drop in photos and GIFs or you can create it using Microsoft Word (GIF’s will not work on this platform, but images will).
  • You must have a list of at least 10 items/points in your article, but more are allowed. Your paper should at least be 2 pages long, but it can be longer.
  • Upload your paper to ICON the day of your speech (see syllabus for dates)

In addition to the general formatting and writing guidelines, the content of your submission should adhere to the following structure (applicable and expected for both the paper and presentation):

Introduction

  • Clearly identify and describe the topic you have chosen.
  • Your introduction must include an easily identifiable and coherent thesis statement.
  • Define key terminology you will be using.
  • Preview of the contents of your paper to provide the reader with an outline of the main points of your submission.

Body

  • Clearly present the main points of the submission as described in your thesis statement and overview (see introduction).
  • Provide compelling examples and detailed explanations to support each of your main points.
  • Describe any controversies, if present, surrounding the topic, as identified by researchers.
  • Use compelling evidence from five sources to support your points by paraphrasing, summarizing, and (occasionally) quoting to support your main points.
  • Important note: While you are required to rely on the scholarly journal articles you have identified, it is vital that you synthesize the information/ideas. Do NOT merely compile summaries of these articles.

Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement from the introduction in different words.
  • Briefly summarize each main point (see body) as a way of reviewing the contents of your submission.
  • Use an appropriate and meaningful final sentence that ties the submission together.

 

In your submission, I expect to see some analysis, synthesis, original thought and clear connections to the topic you have chosen.

It is your job to make the connections and cite materials appropriately.

Below are specific guidelines for the presentational component of this assignment:

  • Purpose: You are informing the general public about a topic in political communication using scholarly information along with complimentary visual aids.
  • Time: 3-4 minutes
  • Visual Aid: Required—you’ll need your BuzzFeed article on the screen behind you while presenting. Use your visual aid as an assisting component rather than a crutch. Let your voice be the focus.
  • Description: This presentation provides you with the opportunity to gain more public speaking skills in addition to informing your audience about a particular topic of interest to you in the field of political communication. Synthesizing complex and sometimes dense scholarly writing to a general audience is a challenging, but necessary skill for everyone. Your goal is to do the research on your end, summarize it in your own words, provide scholarly citations to support your claims, and include pictures, GIFs, and so on to grab your audience members’ attention. Imagine you just received a job at BuzzFeed and your boss asks you to write an article about Political Communication and you are expected to present it to your co-workers. Make your topic relatable and pertinent to their lives.
  • Delivery: Maintain your composure; strive to demonstrate good verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The speaker is expected to be clear, accurate, and informative. You want to exert confidence in your delivery to support your ethos as a speaker. You will need to practice/rehearse your speech at home to make sure you’re hitting the expected 3-4 minutes expected/allowed for your presentation. Also, enjoy the experience! Have fun with it and show off your GIF game.

 

Available Resources Outside of the Classroom:

Communication Studies Journals

To find communication studies journals, search the following databases

To maximize your search results, try the following strategies: 

  • Write down your search terms on a sheet of paper.
  • Identify if any of your search terms have useful synonyms and list them beside your original terms. 
  • Try each term out in the database. 
  • If the term is a phrase rather than a word, place quotation marks around the phrase. 
  • Limit your search by a date range if you want older or newer research. 
  • Use the same search terms in multiple databases to check if you find different results. 

If you prefer to look within the articles found in a specific journal, these titles are the most likely to be helpful: 

Writing for the General Public

Writing for the public is not as easy as it sounds!

Who is your audience? 

  • Identify your target audience.
  • Remind yourself why you need to reach them. 
  • Consider how much your reader likely knows. 
  • What perspective does your reader likely have? 

How to appeal to your audience while writing: 

  • Start with a strong first sentence. 
  • Follow with a clear outline of the steps of your point or argument. 
  • Create clear subheadings.
  • Avoid rhetorical questions. 
  • Improve transition sentences. 
  • Emphasize real-world impacts. 
  • Foreground narratives of real people. 
  • Follow chronology rather than theme. 
  • Avoid jargon. 
  • Keep sentences short and direct. 
  • Omit passive sentence construction. 

These tips come from the following articles: 

Librarian

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Rita Soenksen
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