Synthesis Essay

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Synthesis Essay

Writing Assignment #2: Synthesis Essay




Approach and Requirements

Your essay should synthesize the information provided in at least three articles.  The essay will analyze the effect that television and other forms of multimedia technology have had on the delivery of news.


In this essay, you will use three sources:


You must use the following two sources:



    • Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death


    • Matt Quayle’s article, “The Method of the Medium is the Motion” 



This article is available in the reserved readings section of our class.


In addition, you must use at least one of the following sources:






    • “The Media and the Middle East,” available at







Overall, you will integrate at least three sources into your essay.  You may integrate four or all five of the above sources if you would like to.  But you must use Postman, Quayle, and at least one other source listed above.


Postman takes a particular view on television’s impact on journalism.  Quayle agrees on some points with Postman but disagrees on others.  Kelley writes rather informally about the effects of current technology on attention span in taking in news. “The Media and the Middle East” discusses issues related to the attention span of consumers of news.  Grabowicz writes about new forms of journalism and storytelling that are taking shape in journalism.


Your essay should have the following:



    • an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement.



(WH offers a section called “Drafting an Introduction with Thesis” that will help you understand how to construct a solid introduction and develop a sound thesis statement.)





    • body paragraphs that offer evidence to support your thesis and synthesizes your source material



(WH sections on “Drafting the body” and “Synthesizing source material” will help you develop this section of your essay.)





    • a solid conclusion that reminds readers of your main idea (or thesis) without simply repeating it



(WH offers a section called “Drafting a conclusion” that will offer you guidance as you develop this part of your essay.)


Length: 1000-1200 words


Some strategies to consider when writing this essay:


In writing this essay, you will want to take notes on what Postman says about news broadcasting in Amusing Ourselves to Death, particularly in chapters 6 and 7.  You will also want to take notes on how Quayle responds to Postman.  Quayle’s article was written in 2010.  It provides some interesting perspectives in hindsight on what Postman wrote in 1985 in his book.  You will also want to take notes on the other source(s) you use.


You will then find two or three themes that you found in the various sources.  To learn more about how to find themes in texts and integrate them into a synthesis paper, you may watch the following video tutorial developed by UMUC’s Effective Writing Center.


You might also benefit from advice given on synthesis writing from Drew University and from Professor John A. Dowell at Michigan State University.


In addition, Writer’s Help offers definitions of analysis and synthesis as well as specific sections called “synthesizing source material,” and “analysis: writing about texts.”   You can find these sections by typing in these titles in the Writer’s Help search box. Your instructor may have these areas tagged for you. If that is the case, then you will see them on your WH home page.


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