Sender: Who created the message?

As you encounter a media message, ask first about authorship. Did one person or a team of people author the message? Is this source reliable? What choices about content did the source make? Review the following source analyses of two media messages.

Source Analysis 1: An article from a scientific journal

Science Exploration Journal
  • Who created the message?

    The writer’s name appears in a byline. The article includes two photographs, so a photographer is also involved. A designer was responsible for the layout. A team of editors have fact-checked the article for accuracy, revised its wording, and proofread it.

  • Is the source reliable?

    Scientific journals are peer reviewed and reputable, so you can assume that the writer they hired is knowledgeable about the topic.

  • What choices about content did the source make?

    The magazine’s editorial team decided to cover the particular topic. The writer made choices about which people to interview and about which information to include and exclude from the article. The designer chose photos and graphics to make the pages visually appealing.

Source Analysis 2: An online video advertising a popular snack brand

Cravers Snack Mix Video
  • Who created the message?

    An advertising agency made the ad, probably with a team of actors, scriptwriters, producers, camerapersons, and media arts specialists. However, the snack company is the actual source of the ad, because it hired the ad company and had the ultimate say on content.

  • Is the source reliable?

    Because the message was paid for by a company for commercial purposes, its reliability is questionable.

  • What choices about content did the source make?

    The snack company chose the agency that crafted the ad, approved the persuasive direction for the ad, and decided the production budget.

Your Turn Choose a media message and analyze its source by answering the three questions used in each analysis above.

Additional Resources