Compare and Contrast the News

Learning composition types doesn’t always have to be about writing essay after essay or filling out worksheets. Turning picture-based IKEA pictures into written instructions is a way to explore process writing, for example. When dealing with compare and contrast writing, thinking outside of the box can open the door to many possibilities that go beyond writing an essay.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-177557.jpeg

In this post, we’ll go over the components of compare and contrast writing, then we’ll look at different ways to organize a compare and contrast project. In this case, the project can be comparing news articles from different news agencies.

A comparison shows how two or more things are similar. Contrast shows how they are different. All kinds of subjects are regularly compared and contrasted: political candidates, raising versus lowering taxes, deciding which college to attend, weighing possibilities for the weekend, or trying to choose which car to buy.

In essay or presentation form, the compare and contrast can be structured Subject-by-Subject or Point-by-Point.

A Subject-by-Subject approach looks at the political candidates, the colleges, or the cars separately:

I. Introduction with thesis that introduces the subjects of “truck” and “SUV”

II. Truck

A. Uses

B. Price

C. Gas mileage

D. Tow capacity

E. Interior and exterior spaces

III. SUV

A. Uses

B. Price

C. Gas mileage

D. Tow capacity

E. Interior and exterior spaces

IV. Conclusion: restatement of thesis and review of key points

The Point-by-Point approach looks at the features, stances, qualities one-by-one:

I. Introduction with thesis that present the two political candidates being compared and contrasted.

II. Taxes

A. Candidate Y

B. Candidate Z

III. Capital punishment

A. Candidate Y

B. Candidate Z

IV. Drugs

A. Candidate Y

B. Candidate Z

V. Driving age

A. Candidate Y

B. Candidate Z

VI. Marriage

A. Candidate Y

B. Candidate Z

VII. Conclusion

When doing Compare-Contrast, there are some transitions that are specific to the type that help move things along coherently:

For Comparison

  • In comparison
  • In the same way
  • Just as…so
  • Like
  • Likewise
  • Similarly 

For Contrast

  • Although
  • But
  • Unlike 
  • Despite
  • Even though
  • However

One project I like to have students do is “Comparing and Contrasting the News.” Coverage in the news always has some biased. This could be for various reasons, and it is not always noticeable at first. News writers choose certain things to include first, headlines are written differently, certain photos are chosen, and some things are left out. The biased could be related to sports, politics, opinions about celebrities, or emotional attachments.

A project that looks at these differences will help students learn to organize their Compare and Contrast writing. However, it will also force them to consider the importance of paying attention to their word choice, sentence structure, and phrasing when writing an essay, talking to a friend, or presenting their case.

The first step is for the student to search online for “news bias chart.” Many charts like this one will come up:

Of course, even news bias charts could have bias! But the goal here is for the students just to pick one and not dwell on which one to pick–I always have to push students along here and keep focused on the purpose of the project.

Then, the student chooses a news agency from the right side of the chart and another from the left side. Whether they are choosing from the top, middle or bottom, they should choose two agencies that are at about the same latitude.

Next, from each news agency picked, the student chooses an article that covers the same topic. The topic could be about anything: a business closing, a football game outcome, a big storm, the marriage of a celebrity, the death of a famous singer, or a political candidates decision to drop out of a race. As long as the articles are specifically about the same thing, this will work!

After reading both articles, the student uses visualizations to clearly present the similarities and differences of the two articles. This can be done on a posterboard or by using a digital slideshow like PowerPoint or Keynote. The important thing is that the presentation is organized subject-by-subject or point-by-point.

Subject-by-Subject Example

I. Article Y

A. Headline information

B. Lead information

C. Who is quoted

D. What information is at the top of the article; what’s at the bottom

E. The picture(s) that was chosen

II. Article Z

A. Headline information

B. Lead information

C. Who is quoted

D. What information is at the top of the article; what’s at the bottom

E. The picture(s) that was chosen

Point-by-Point Example

I. Headline information

A. Article Y

B. Article Z

II. Lead information

A. Article Y

B. Article Z

III. Who is quoted

A. Article Y

B. Article Z

IV. What information is at the top of the article; what’s at the bottom

A. Article Y

B. Article Z

V. The picture(s) that was chosen

A. Article Y

B. Article Z

An ideal student presentation will begin with an introduction. The introduction should tell what the topic is, what the articles are, and what they agencies are. It should also make some sort of thesis statement. Finally, the student’s presentation should conclude in a way that answers, “What’s the point?” What’s the overall conclusion and takeaway here?

This presentation project can also be turned into an essay format. By considering different ways to approach writing style, we can make composition seem not-so-boring and connect it to everyday experiences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s