Researching rhetorically post #2: informative

Now that you’ve found an opinion/persuasive piece related to or about the movement you are interested in, you will focus on finding another text that is in conversation with that first text. 

STEP 1: Choose an informational text that is relevant to/about your movement or organization and in conversation with your first text. Examples of informational sources include a news article (not an opinion piece), an informational webpage, or an informational book. It’s important that you try to find a source that is not expressing an opinion, but is informing the audience. (Note: if you choose to pick a news article, make sure that the words “Op-Ed, Opinion, Editorial, Letter to the Editor” are not on the page, as that indicates an opinion piece.)

Importantly, try to pick a source that isn’t just very broadly about the same general topic as the one you used for the last discussion, but one that provides information about the same question or concern that your previous source debated. For example, if my first source was about March for Our Lives and how they are increasing youth activism, my second source might be about March for Our Lives and youth activism, too. (Remember, you cannot use March for Our Lives for this project.)

NOTE: Try to find a source with information that surprises you or enhances your understanding of the conversation in some way. This will facilitate your analysis. (In other words, if the source provides only information you already knew from reading the text that you wrote about in Post 1, it may affect the quality of your response.)

STEP 2: Once you’ve identified an article to work with, read the article/text and then write a rhetorical summary, at least 250 words long. To help you write a rhetorical summary, see Guiding Questions for Rhetorical Summaries below.

NOTE: there is one new question to answer that was not included in the previous assignment. Make sure you answer this new question.

Guiding Questions For Researching Rhetorically: 

Please use specific examples from the text to support your analysis. Here are some questions to consider. 

  • First, identify the author (first name and last name) and title of the piece and where/when it was published. Then identify the core idea of the author’s argument, along with information on what they’re arguing and how they’re making their argument. (If it’s an informative piece, identify what the main goal of the document is and what they are using to support that goal. For example, what are they trying to explain? Why? How?) Your summary should remain an objective report of the article/text, without your commentary or opinion of the author’s argument/information. 
  • Who is the audience for the text and what was the author’s purpose? Remember that the audience cannot be “everyone”.  (For example, does the audience belong to a particular age group? To a specific geographical location? A political affiliation? A specific career or degree of knowledge? Look for clues in the text.) What is the writer responding to? What do you know about the author/place of publication?
  • How does the writer use evidence/information? Is the evidence/information reliable? Why or why not?
  • What is the level of bias or degree of advocacy in the medium where this article was published? For example, a newspaper or website might believe something very strongly, to the point that they are very selective in the information they share, or they might be trying to be “neutral”.  If you look into the newspaper/website/etc, you might get clues. What might you say are the medium’s values? For example, for an article, you might read the Wikipedia page to learn more about the magazine or newspaper in which it is published. For a social media post, you might click on the profile and see if the other posts indicate a bias.  For a website, you might look at the “about page” or read other perspectives on this website. Try to understand if this author is advocating a specific position (or is “neutral”) and/or if the place where this source was published advocates a position (or is “neutral”).
  • Look at the WAY the author makes the argument. What stylistic choices does the author make? What content choices? What choices regarding images, layout, etc? How do such choices relate to their rhetorical purpose/s? For example, how do their choices help develop their ethos? How do the choices support their argument? How do their choices help them connect with the audience? What do these choices have to do with the place where the text is published? How does the genre of the text affect these choices? 
  • What did you learn from this source that you did not know from the previous sources? In what ways does this source build on or contradict the other sources? How is the source entering the conversation with your previous sources? In what ways are they entering the conversation in similar or different ways from your previous sources?