Writing Workshop Writing a Compare-Contrast Essay



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Writing Workshop Writing a Compare-Contrast Essay

  • Feature Menu

Comparison-Contrast Essay Choices

  • You may choose from the following prompts for this assignment:
  • Compare and contrast two news stories from different media
  • Compare and contrast “Imagine” with “We Are the World”
  • Compare and contrast two similar items you might want to purchase (e.g., iPod vs. mp3 player)

Comparing Media Coverage

  • Example: Write an essay in which you compare and contrast the coverage of a single news event by two different news media.
  • Where do you get your news? From TV news shows? From articles in newspapers? From news magazines? From the Internet?
  • You’ve probably noticed that each of these media presents information in a different way. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?
  • [End of Section]

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Select a News Event

  • Look for major national or international events that interest you.
    • Watch a national news program or read a national newspaper.
    • Choose an event.
    • Survey other media—magazines, radio programs, Internet sites—to find additional coverage of that event.
  • [End of Section]

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • No two news media report an event the same way. Every news story is shaped and limited by
    • the technology used
    • the traditions of the medium itself
    • people (writers, editors, directors, producers)

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Think about ways a TV news story might differ from an Internet news story or an article in a news magazine.
  • images, audio clips, and/or video clips
  • more in-depth coverage
  • links to related information
  • Internet
  • Magazine
  • still images only, no audio
  • more in-depth coverage
  • sources for further information
  • TV News

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Compare the coverage of one event by two media.
  • Questions to Ask When Comparing News Media
  • Attention-getting techniques
    • How are images, words, and sounds arranged to get the audience’s attention?
  • Objectivity
    • Is the main subject portrayed objectively, or is there a positive or negative slant?
    • If two people or groups are involved, does the story give the impression that one side is more honorable or honest than the other?

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Questions to Ask When Comparing News Media
  • Complexity
    • Does the story provide background information?
    • Does it help you see how this event fits into a bigger picture?
    • Does the story present multiple points of view? What types of sources are interviewed?
  • Sequence of information
    • How does the story begin and end?
    • What kinds of details make up the bulk of the story—interviews, facts, dramatic images, others?

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Questions to Ask When Comparing News Media
  • Emotional impact
    • Does the story seem to be designed to arouse a certain feeling or impression in its audience?
    • What technique does it use to do this?

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Analyze the two news stories you have chosen. List both similarities and differences, and make sure to include specific details and examples.
  • Magazine Article Versus Internet Coverage
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Magazine
  • Internet

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Here’s one student’s chart analyzing two stories on the final of the Women’s World Cup soccer competition.
  • Magazine Article Versus Internet Coverage
  • Similarities
  • Include background, setting up one team as underdogs
  • Present key moments of final game in chronological order
  • Include comments from both coaches
  • Include dramatic action photos of the game and emotional images of winning team at the end of the game

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Compare and Contrast Coverage

  • Magazine Article Versus Internet Coverage
  • Differences
  • Magazine
  • More quotations from players and coaches; interviews seem more thorough
  • More photos; greater emotional impact
  • Gives history of event—past winners, past locations, etc.
  • Internet
  • Includes quotations, but they are shorter, fewer in number, and less in-depth.
  • Fewer photos; not as much emotional impact
  • No history, but there is a link to an article on the history of the event.
  • [End of Section]

Comparison-Contrast Essay Prewriting: Form a Thesis

  • Example: Both media approach the story in a similar way, but the magazine article has more information and greater visual impact.
  • Analyze the similarities and differences between your two items. Then, write a thesis statement—a basic conclusion or judgment.
  • Make sure your thesis statement is clear and coherent.
  • [End of Section]

Comparison-Contrast Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Essay

  • Organize your essay using either the block method or the point-by-point method.
  • Tell everything about one medium first and then move on to the second medium.
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Block Method
  • Discuss similarities first and then differences.
  • OR
  • Magazine article
  • Internet story

Comparison-Contrast Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Essay

  • Point-by-Point Method
  • Explain how the subjects are alike and different for one point of comparison. Then, move on to the next point of comparison, and so on.
  • Type of information
  • similarities
  • differences
  • Complexity
  • similarities
  • differences
  • Emotional impact
  • similarities
  • differences
  • Which Method?
  • [End of Section]

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Practice and Apply

  • Use the instructions in this presentation to:
    • select a news event, and analyze its coverage by two different news media. -or-
    • analyze the meanings and messages expressed in both "Imagine" and "We Are the World," and then compare and contrast the two songs. Provide examples from both songs to support your comparison. -or-
    • Compare the features of two different brands of something you want to buy (e.g., iPod vs. mp3 player).
  • [End of Section]

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Practice and Apply

  • Then, write a thesis statement that communicates your conclusion about the coverage. Finally, organize the information you’ve gathered into a compare-contrast essay.

The End

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Form a Thesis

  • Confusing
  • Clear
  • The two stories use photographs and impact you differently since in one you are in the action, and in the other you get more information.
  • The magazine article uses photographs to create a greater emotional impact and includes more information than the Internet story.
  • Clear and Coherent
  • Let your readers know exactly what you intend to prove in your essay. Be clear and coherent.

Comparing Media Coverage Prewriting: Organize Your Essay

  • Which Method?
  • Before you decide on an organization method, consider the content of your analysis. Here are a couple rules of thumb:
    • The block method works best for shorter pieces with fewer comparisons.
    • The point-by-point method works best for longer essays with more comparisons.


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