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Assignment #2 –Crime in Media Research Paper
You will be asked to write a 6-8 page research paper (formatted according to the guidelines set out in the Writing Tips section below) that focuses on media coverage of crime in Canada. Special emphasis will be placed on how prevailing attitudes on race, class, gender, nationality, political affiliation, sexuality, and other prominent social issues have found expression in crime-related news stories. For instance, if you decide to examine how the media covered a prominent murder case involving, say, an indigenous person —be they the victim or the accused —you'll want to keep an eye out for how your sources address issues of race and class, and whether or not stereotypes about native people found theirway into the various stories that discussed the case. The same approach can also be applied to cases involving sexual assault. You'll need to assess the extent to which race, class, gender and other issues shaped media portrayals of both the victim and the perpetrator. Basically, you're being asked to put some of the theoretical approaches discussed in this course into action.
Choosing a topic: Although you will be encouraged to come up with your own topic and thesis, there are some basic guidelines you must follow:
Your paper shouldbe based on either a specific criminal case (e.g. a high profile murder trial) or a broader topic related to the criminal justice system as a whole (e.g. racial profiling or the War on Drugs).
Your arguments will be based on 5-10 news items(e.g. newspaper stories, magazine articles, video clips, and audio clips) and at least 2 secondary sources(e.g. peer-reviewed journal articles and full-length books written by reputable scholars). The bulk of your paper will be based on the various news items you track down, while the secondary sources will be used to complement your arguments.
Your topic has to address the Canadian criminal justice system exclusively. Cases from the United States, England, and other nations shouldn't be discussed in this assignment.
Your topic has to address trends and events that took place before 1995. I won't accept papers that look at, say, the Ghomeshi case or the antics of Rob Ford.
Your topic must address criminal law, not civil law. Previous students have made the mistake of talking about civil matters in their papers,
including educational policies, immigration law, employment rights, and various civil liberties (e.g. freedom of speech and religion). Though civil law and criminal law can sometimes overlap—e.g. the use of immigration laws to deport people with radical political views—your paper must deal with crime and criminals. If you’re confused as to what constitutes civil law and what constitutes criminal law, shoot me an email or get in touch with me via Brightspace.
The cases discussed in some of the books and scholarly articles used in this course (e.g. the Shortis case, the Sampson case, and the murder of Gus Ninham) are out of bounds. You can use these sources to complement your arguments, but the cases they discuss shouldn't serve as the topic for your paper.And, of course, if you're having trouble coming up with a topicor have some other questions about these guidelines, feel free to contact me via email or on Brightspace and I'll try to help you out.Background InformationOnce you've selected a topic, you'll need to jump ahead to module 11 and read the lecture/readings in their entirety. Since this module addresses how crime is treated in the media and popular culture, it will give you a good idea of some of the basic issues that have affected the manner in which media outlets report on crime. Next, you'll want to read (or re-read in some cases) any of the modules that address themes specific to your topic. For instance, if you're examining a case that ended up before the Supreme Court because it violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you'll want to jump ahead and read Module 10.
Finding SourcesRyerson's library website will be an obvious starting point. Besides providing you with access to a wide range of journal articles and scholarly books, the library website will also act as a gateway to many (if not all) of the news items you'll be using in this paper. These sources can be tracked down by clicking on the "Research Databases" tab and selecting "Newspapers" from the dropdown menu on the main page of the librarywebsite. Here you'll find links to several useful databases, including Canadian Newsstand, the Toronto Star, and the Globe & Mail. Once you've selected a general topic, do some basic searches on any of these databases and see what you find. Also, please note that portions of Maclean's —Canada's equivalent to Timeor Newsweek—are available through the library website. And if you feel like approaching this paper from an "old school" perspective, it's worth remembering that the library has a pretty big collection of newspapers and magazines in the stacks or on microfilm. In other words, the internet is a great research tool, but sometimes it pays to take a trip to the library and access this material directly.
If you can't find what you're looking for through the library's website, I suggest checking out the CBC digital archivesand the Internet Archive. Both sites feature large collections of public domain material that can be accessed freely. I've also foundthat Newspapers.comis an excellent resource. Unfortunately, it's not free, so I don't necessarily expect you to use it in this assignment. Nonetheless, I strongly encourage you to check out other online databases that haven't been discussed here. Just be careful —not all sources (especially ones found online) are created equal. If you have doubts about one or more of your sources, drop me a line and I'll do my best to help you out. Remember:the strength of your argument will often depend on the strength of your sources.Getting an “A”Here are some tips for doing well on the Crime in Media essay:Make sure that your paper is well-written and error-free.Again, don’t try to say too much at once. Keep it simple —be as clear and precise as possible. And if writing isn’t your strong suit, consider makingan appointment to conferwith the fine folks who work at Ryerson’s Writing Centre.Be sure to come up witha clear and concise thesis.Youneed to establish in the first paragraph of your paper the argument(s) you’ll be presenting to the reader. On a related note, try to avoid submitting a descriptive paper—an essay that merely summarizes historical events. I need to see some hard-hitting analysis here. Bring some new material to the table.You need to make sure that your paper doesn’t simply reiterate material that has already been discussed in the lectures and the readings.Try to surprise me. If you know of an obscure criminal case that hasn’t been examined in this course, by all means do it. I always like reading papers that go off the beaten path.Do not make the same mistakes in this paper that you made in the first paper. Please take note of the criticism I offered in the first assignment and apply it to the second one. If your first paper is littered with simple mistakes that were mentioned in the writing tips below—for example, short paragraphs, semi-colons, or improper margins—do everything in your power to make sure they don’t re-appear in the final assignment. Showing noticeable signs of improvement will go a long way towards boosting your grade
Assignment #2 –Crime in Media Research Paper
You will be asked to write a 6-8 page research paper (formatted according to the guidelines set out in the Writing Tips section below) that focuses on media coverage of crime in Canada.