Source Analysis on Domestic Politics and Police Brutality

The topic I chose to analyze a source based upon the topic of domestic issues and the subtopic on police brutality. Human rights has been something that America has struggled with ever since early colonization. Although there has been progress in America over the years regarding this issue, there are still some loose ends that have not been tied concerning racial bias. Over the past couple of years, there has been much debate on the way the American justice system handles racially-charged events, such as that of Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin. I chose to analyze a source from the PBS News Hour website. The article was titled “UN Committee Condemns U.S for Racial Disparity, Police Brutality”, by Charles Pulliam-Moore. Based on the analysis I did, the source proved to be credible.

The main idea of the article is clear. It focuses on what the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reported on the issues of racial disparity and police brutality- citing the shooting of Michael Brown. For each part of the source, the main idea stays the same, the author doesn’t seem to express his opinion on the UN’s report. The composer uses the credibility of the UN’s CERD. He also pulled quotes from the report given by the committee. Statistics about the demographics, race of law enforcement officials, and traffic stops in the Ferguson area to defend the point that the UN officials made in their report. The article is composed of six paragraphs. Paragraph one states that the CERD published a report analyzing the racial justice in the US and also cites the incident in Ferguson Missouri. The second paragraph gives a statement made by the CERD in a press conference. It states that African Americans in the US bear a disproportionate amount of the burden associated with economic and social disparity. In the third paragraph, the composer gives a quote from the CERD chairman, Noureddine Amir, on how there’s still racial bias in the US. The fourth paragraph gives statistics on race and law enforcement in the Ferguson area in order to give evidence to the claim made by the CERD chairman. Paragraph five uses a writing from the committee that states its concern with the racial profiling by the US law enforcements against minorities. Lastly, paragraph six goes on to state other things that were addressed in the report, such as: infrastructural discrimination, gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and racial profiling; it tells how these are used to harm minority communities.

The first step I used for evaluating the source I chose was the five-point model (accuracy, authority, objectivity, coverage, and currency). To me, the most important one is accuracy, because this determines if the information being presented is true or not. Without accurate information, there is no basis to making a credible claim. In the source I chose, the information presented in the article was fact based and it didn’t seem to contradict itself. When reading it I came across no grammatical mistakes. I checked to see if the information was true by verifying it against other sources and the information on the topic matches that given by other sites (huffingtonpost.com, reuters.com, politico.com, un.org, time.org, etc.). The article did not have a formal bibliography, but it did contain words highlighted in blue within the main text that linked to other websites. This indicated where the information in the article came from. Credit was also given as well to the one who took the photo. The second most important point out of the five is authority. It can establish credibility by helping to solidify the trustworthiness of the source. The party responsible for this source is PBS News Hour. They are a journalistic organization that has won more than thirty major awards, is known for its original reporting and news coverage on television and on the internet, and now features an interactive current events site for students and teachers that has more than 150 lesson plans. This source has established a high sense of credibility. The next thing to look for is the source’s objectivity. This has to do with how bias or unbiased the source is. The composer of the article does not give his opinion, but instead, focuses on what the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) had published regarding racial justice in the United States. The composer includes fact based statistics as well. The purpose of the article is to inform the reader on the UN’s analytical report on how racially-charged events are handled in the US. There are no advertisements on the webpage, but links to more news coverage on the events related to Ferguson, and also picture advertisements for other news articles on PBS News Hour. There is a copyright for News Hour Productions LLC as well as funding from BAE Systems, BNSF Railway, IBEW, Lincoln Financial Group, and a list of foundations. This source has great objectivity. The next of the five points is coverage, or how much information is presented. This point depends solely on the one doing the research because only they know how much information they need in order to use the source. The information presented in the article has some good factual information and statistics, and it is mostly composed of the analytical report given by the CERD. The article, in its totality, summarizes what was said by the CERD in the report they gave on the current state of racial justice in the United States. The last of the five points in the first step of determining if a source is credible or not is its currency. This has to do with when the source was created, and if it has a time range appropriate for usage. The article on PBS News Hour was created on August 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM EST. The source is relatively new, in concerns to the topic it is related to. The source passes the checkpoint of currency.

The second step in determining if a source is credible or not is by looking at the rhetorical properties presented in it. There are three: Appeals, toulmin logic, and logical fallacies. There is an ethical appeal found in this source. The composer sticks to the factual evidence, which makes an appeal to the honesty of the composer. There is another ethical appeal based on the credibility of the composer. This is because he has published more than twenty articles on the PBS News Hour website. Two of the twenty deal with the Ferguson incident. The composer also uses logical appeal in the article. He quotes from the UN’s CERD’s analytical report on the racially- charged situations in the US. Also, the composer uses facts concerning the Ferguson area, racial demographics, and law enforcement to appeal to the logical side of the argument. He also uses an interview with the CERD as a logical appeal. The only emotional appeal I could bring to attention (if it is one) is found the source’s picture. In the picture, there is a big sign covering at least forty percent of the picture. In the sign it has a picture of a silhouette of a cop with a night stick held over his head in attack position, and toward the bottom, there are two silhouetted hands, which represent a person trying to plead for mercy. This picture on the banister in the photo takes up roughly ten percent of the picture in whole. This can be seen as emotional appeal because it plays toward the reader’s emotions, especially in regards to sympathy, mercy, and also moralistic values. Because the composer’s main priority and focus is to stick to what the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said in there review on the US’ justice system and its handling of racially- charged events, he doesn’t make any claims based off of his opinion. Instead, the composer does, however, give supporting evidence in the form of statistics to the claims being made by the CERD, and also uses the Michael Brown incident as an example. There were no logical fallacies presented in the source that I analyzed.

Based upon the criteria given for analyzing a source, the source meets all five points of the first step. It also passes the rhetorical part as well. So in conclusion, the source is in fact credible and can be used in a research paper effectively.