Best Media Writing of the Week (BMW's)

Deliverables (should be sent via email before class starts on the dates listed on your schedule):
NOTE: Please deliver your assignment via email, and include "BMW" in its subject.

  1. Send attached to your email: A 250-700 word report, double spaced, in doc, rtf, pdf, html, or txt format (NO .DOCX!).  Use Times New Roman font, point size 10 or 12 (does not apply to txt files). NOTE: Example BMW available here.
  2. Send in or attached to your email: A link to, a recording of, or a detailed description of your artifact -- or an explanation of why you were not able to record it. Note: If a link to your artifact dies between the time you email it to me and my viewing it within the next week, you'll need to have noticed and sent me an updated link. Note that there are ways to attach textual web pages to email. Let me know if you're not sure how to make that happen.
NOTE: No more than 3 BMW's on a single genre of media.

  1. Develop a critical apparatus for determining what makes an un/successful example of media writing.
  2. Become more comfortable articulating the results of that process of evaluating media writing.
  3. Become more familiar with ways of recording media artifacts.
  4. Demonstrate and improve [spoken] presentation and delivery skills.
Each BMW will constitute 2% of your grade.


Note: Additional instructions for your movie-themed BMW can be found here.

Each BMW must include, at a minimum, the following.
  1. A brief description of your artifact.
  2. The context of your artifact.
  3. Popular reception of your artifact
  4. Critique of the artifact's choices
  5. Link to and lessons about our culture


Grades will be given through the following system.


Each week for the first ten weeks of class (see your schedule for deadlines), you will need to write a report describing the best (or worst) example of media writing that you experienced since your last BMW.  The report should be between 250-700 words, and should address both the media artifact itself and the social/cultural criteria that led to your choosing it.  We will be discussing several communication theories in class, and as we review these theoretical approaches, I encourage you to insert them into your BMWs. 

NOTE: You should also attempt to bring a copy of the original media for us to potentially use in class.

Please note that using "the analog loophole" to record is fine.  That is, if there's something you like on TV, using your laptop webcam, iPod, or phone to record it is no problem.  Just be sure you can attach what you record to an email or burn it to a CD and send/bring it to your instructor.  If you cannot record the artifact, that's fine, but you'll need to additionally email your instructor with a detailed description of the artifact.  Google around and see if you can't find what you enjoyed (or hated!).

Each week, several BMW's will be selected for presentations on the upcoming Thursday.  Always be prepared to give a quick recap of why you selected your BMW.

NOTE:  No more than three of your BMW's may be based on a single genre of media.  To be safe, this could mean no more than 3 radio broadcasts [of any sort], no more than three television artifacts, podcasts, YouTubes, websites, blogs, etc.  If you feel you have to include, say, three examples from sports radio and another from political talk radio, please contact your instructor as soon as possible.

For informal websites, including many YouTubes, blogs, and forums, please ensure that what you're reviewing could ostensibly be considered professional media writing.  If you feel you have a great example of media writing by a hobbyist/amateur, please contact your instructor.

Do note that though these should reflect your best work, this is your best work for a weekly assignment.  In this case, the assignment is relatively small, so it should be of fairly high quality.  At the same time, I do not expect them to be as polished as a major assignment.  Therefore, I ask that you please make sure that you turn in this assignment on timeLate BMW's may not be accepted and may be graded as zeroes.

Hints (from the Wikipedia Manual of Style):

[DO NOT USE] Unsupported attributions

Weasel words.svg
... some people say, it is believed, many are of the opinion, most feel, experts declare, it is often reported, it is widely thought, research has shown, science says, it was proven ...

Phrases such as these present the appearance of support for statements but can deny the reader the opportunity to assess the source of the viewpoint. They are referred to as "weasel words" by Wikipedia contributors. They can pad out sentences without adding any useful information and may disguise a biased view. Claims about what people say, think, feel, or believe, and what has been shown, demonstrated, or proven should be clearly attributed.[3]

Read more about Weasel Words here and then promise me that you'll never, ever use them again.

Or hyperbole.

Please also review...


... legendary, great, eminent, visionary, outstanding, leading, celebrated, cutting-edge, extraordinary, brilliant, famous, renowned, remarkable, prestigious, world-class, respected, notable, virtuoso ...

Words such as these are often used without attribution to promote the subject of an article, while neither imparting nor plainly summarizing verifiable information. They are known as "peacock terms" by Wikipedia contributors. Instead of making unprovable proclamations about a subject's importance, use facts and attribution to demonstrate that importance.

  • Bob Dylan is the defining figure of the 1960s counterculture and the greatest songwriter of all time.
  • Dylan was included in Time's 100: The Most Important People of the Century, where he was called "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation".[1] By the mid-1970s, his songs had already been covered by hundreds of other artists.[2]


What I want you to be able to do is describe what went through the minds of the artifacts' creators. If you were giving a pitch to a group saying why this artifact should be a BMW -- or your next project -- it should include those same arguments its creator made to have the idea made into a scene of a show or radio spot or commercial (or you should discuss those arguments that their bosses or clients should have made, to have its creation stopped in the case of a worst media writing).

Watch this video (if that's no longer viewable, a local copy is here) from the show Mad Men to get an idea of what I'm looking for you to write.

Why does Draper (the presenter) use the pictures he does? Why does the show use the music that it uses? What does his voice over the slides do for the show? For what he's selling inside of the show? Why would his commercial be successful as pitched?

This one is pretty interesting too, along the same lines, but here the pitch is personal, not for a product.