The Don’ts of a Critical Media Article Review
So, you have something to say about the way in which an article was written. Great! And since we know you wish to do a great job in pointing out some of the things another author forgot to mention, then you must make sure that you do things the right way yourself. The last thing you want is to have another author write a review only to point out the things you did not do right yourself. Therefore, before setting out to mention the things that are missing or were poorly covered by someone else, make sure you do not fall into any of the next traps yourself.
8 Traps You Must Avoid Falling into When Writing a Critical Media Review
1. The fact that it is a critical review does not mean you must make it negative in any way
The term critical is not necessarily negative and it means to take a long and very objective look at another author’s work. The work of a critic supposes a good grasp of the norms and their application under the right conditions. More than just an inflexible application of strict rules and norms, a real critic can assess a situation and decide, according to specific norms, what can and cannot be applied and whether communication is properly done.
Do not take the task of writing a critical review in the sense that you must find things to be critical about and to point out mistakes. Struggling to find things that are not there can make you seem petty. Instead, do a balanced appraisal of the article, starting from the main elements.
2. There is no “I” in a critical review…
Ok, there are a few. But you get what we mean. A critical review is a piece of writing which should evaluate an article starting with the industry norms. This being said, make sure this is a professional review and not some random rant any other annoyed reader could blurt out over the Internet. First, nobody reads these things because getting so offended by another person’s view shows a lack of maturity and capacity to properly review an issue.
Your main purpose is to establish whether the opinion of the author was correctly expressed, whether he makes sure to use the proper tone, is creative enough in approach and adapts the message to the intended audience.
3. The review can come from anyone, so don’t make it your personal opinion
In case we are not making much sense here, know that anyone who can write a review should write, more or less the same things. The criteria on which you base your evaluation are the same for everyone. This means that if an author drew a bit outside the lines, any other person could notice it. Sure, there are different writing styles and your approach can be different. Even so, you need to make sure the important review points are mentioned.
4. Treating the review like your own, personal rant
As any piece of writing, evaluating it can be a bit subjective. Even if you stick to the main review guidelines. This is why you must have a well-constructed argument for anything you include in your work. These arguments will be the basis of your own thesis and they must have a strong correspondent. Make sure your ideas are backed by theory and you can provide good examples from the evaluated work.
5. Getting side-tracked
Reviews have very clearly defined purposes and are built around the article to review. There are guidelines and information you must include. This being said, do not put anything that is not in the form of a well-structured argument. You might find it obvious and omit to state your reasons, but you must always assume that the person reading the review does not have the critical background and experience you have, nor the journalistic knowledge necessary to evaluate such a piece of writing.
6. Forget to present the argument the author is making
Always assume that the person reading your review does not know anything. This includes having information about the article or information about what a review should include. If anything, your review must have an almost academic value, including objective assessments, solid arguments, and information on how the author should have done things differently.
7. Do not forget about the basics
If you are very passionate about what you are writing and committed to the argument you are trying to make, this does not excuse you from leaving out the basic elements of a review. Look for form, style of writing, tone, the way in which the author tries to communication and relay his message to the public. Look for how well he managed to adapt the message to the intended audience and whether the article is relevant in any way. This means that it must either communicate a personal opinion, draw a conclusion, give instructions, explain an issue or persuade this audience.
8. Do not go off with too specific arguments, based on information only accessible to experts in the field of the article
If you notice that the author included some information you know is not correct, stick to correcting this specific information. Do not start to expand and turn the original thesis around, even though the conclusion of the author is therefore rejected. Remember that your review must be based around an article and is not try to make a new argument. Do not turn this piece of writing into a whole new thesis.
Sometimes you can be very passionate about what you are writing, even if we are talking about an article review. It is great that you can see at a glance whether an article meets or fails to meet the requirements of a good one. However, this does not give you the right to go off and write a personal rant, renew the thesis of the original article, or forget about the main points you need to make a good review.