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Purpose and Audience in Publications (Harper)

For a portion of class today we will be discussing how to analyze the purpose and audience of a publication. Such an analysis can benefit you as a researcher and writer in numerous ways. Most obviously, this can help you choose whether or not to rely on a piece of information from a source as part of your argument by determining the credibility of the source. It is also important to consider how particular sources may be viewed by the audience of the argument(s) you are writing. Knowing whom a publication is written for and why can also help you understand why the writers in the publication have made the choices they have in their writing. Additionally, it is important that we are aware of the bias of a particular publication. Bias isn't all bad, but you should always consider it when reading critically. This is important for this class and writing your upcoming portfolio, but it is most important in the larger picture: your academic career (especially if you go on to grad school); discussions; forming intelligent decisions in your personal life (on political issues, health concerns, etc.); life! We are so inundated in our culture with media and the various slants that come with it, it becomes crucial to be able to critically sift through it for yourself and to be aware of the various devices used to present it to you.

Please answer the following questions about the publication you have chosen:

  1. What kind of publication is this? Is it a trade journal, a popular magazine, a scholarly journal, etc.?
  2. Who publishes this periodical? Is the publisher a commercial or non-profit venture?
  3. Who is the audience of this publication?
  4. How did you decide who the audience is?
  5. What is the purpose of this publication? How are readers expected to use it?
  6. What types of articles and regular features does this publication include?
  7. Does this publication seem to have a particular political orientation? Does it advance a particular cause? Explain