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
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.
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.
Each BMW will constitute 2% of your grade.
- Develop a critical apparatus for determining what makes an
example of media writing.
- Become more comfortable articulating the results of that process
of evaluating media writing.
- Become more familiar with ways of recording media artifacts.
- Demonstrate and improve [spoken] presentation and delivery skills.
Note: Additional instructions for your movie-themed BMW can be found here.
Each BMW must include, at a minimum, the following.
- A brief description of your artifact.
The context of your artifact.
- Include how you know that this is an example of professional media writing.
Popular reception of your artifact
- Related stories
- Info on the actors in the story
- Background information required to understand its message
Critique of the artifact's choices
- Other stories that cite it
- Other artifacts that copy it
- Past artifacts it copies
Link to and lessons about our culture
- Edits/Production techniques used
Deductions you can make about its intended audience
- No artifact has an intended audience of "everyone".
- For example, almost every item has an audience limited by economics on some level. Some can't buy a car. Some luxury brands
don't want those without cash to buy their products.
- There are always choices made of how to
appeal to specific subcategories, even if only
more strongly than others.
- Think of "intended audience" as primary, secondary, maybe tertiary audieneces, if that's more helpful
- Beliefs of its authors
- How does your choice very specifically teach us about cultural mores and decorum?
You must link specifics from your
deconstruction of the artifact to these
lessons. That is, it is your responsibility to
build an argument.
- How do its lessons help you prepare your class assignments? Other productions you'll perform?
Grades will be given through the following system.
Check Plus -- 2.25 points -- Goes above and beyond what was required, and does so efficiently. Does a great job linking specifics in the artifact critique
to cultural and personal lessons about media writing. Carefully discusses small, overlooked, yet important decisions by directors, actors, or
writers. Check Pluses will be rare.
Check -- 2 points -- Does what's required. Includes appropriately captured artifact. Text files attached, movies included with links.
Discusses everything from the "Requirements" section.
Check Minus -- 1.75 points -- Does a good job, but has an obvious weakness. Perhaps the cultural merit or personal lessons are not well argued.
You may have argued that the point that the BMW artifact is arguing is important rather than that the artifact is well done. You may
have gone too generic in your final points ("This commercial shows that money and consumerism drives America."). May sum instead of critique.
Minus -- 1.5 points -- Flawed BMW. Does not grasp the assignment, or makes many of the mistakes listed under "Check Minus". May use its
space to quote the original without providing clear critique and deconstruction.
Zero -- zero points -- Unacceptable work. May plagiarize from sources. May not include a critique. Writing may be unacceptably edited, or not
obviously proofread at all. Does not include the points from the "Requirements" section.
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.
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
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 time.
Late BMW's may not be accepted and may
be graded as zeroes.
Hints (from the Wikipedia Manual of Style):
Read more about Weasel Words here and then promise me that you'll never, ever use them again.
[DO NOT USE] Unsupported
... 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
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.
Please also review...
... legendary, great, eminent, visionary,
leading, celebrated, cutting-edge, extraordinary, brilliant, famous,
renowned, remarkable, prestigious, world-class, respected, notable,
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
- 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
By the mid-1970s, his songs had already been covered by hundreds of
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
one is pretty interesting too, along the same lines, but here the pitch is
personal, not for a product.