Media Analyst  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotAre children's TV programs suitable for the kids who are watching? In the news, do reporters fairly represent males and females in covering the issues? Is one side of a story left out? Have reporters and news organizations told stories accurately?

Media analysts try to answer these questions. Also called media critics, they are the watchdogs of the information world. They carefully observe what is being written and broadcast. And they comment on what they see. Analysts help us sort out the flood of information being sent through airwaves, publications and advertising each day.

Jennifer Pozner is the director of the women's desk at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watch group of journalists and activists. She believes that media analysis truly affects the way people interpret and digest information daily.

"Media analysis, if it's done in the right way, gives people the tools through which they can learn to really understand the world around them as informed citizens and as intelligent, clear thinking, critically thinking individuals. Media analysis give us a way to understand what we're trained culturally not to...and that's why it's so important that we do this work," she says.

dotAnalysts communicate well. They have keen analytical minds and the ability to make connections between what's on TV and what's going on in real life. Sometimes those connections are obvious; other time they're hidden.

Analysts typically require a mixture of journalistic, artistic and analytical skills. Pozner loves the variety of tasks she's faced with daily.

"It's a job which allows me to do a lot of different things that I like to do at the same time, whether it's writing, public speaking, radio, magazines, action alerts, website stuff, panel discussions, public debates, community forums -- the whole shebang!" she says.

dotMany analysts also teach college-level courses on the media. Others work for think-tanks. There, they would analyze a specific issue such as the environment or politics.

Some large newspapers, magazines and television networks employ their own media analysts, as do some political campaigns. Other analysts are self-employed as consultants, freelance journalists or book authors.

dotMedia analysts are often at the whim of the news. They can be called to work whenever a major story breaks. Take the car accident involving Princess Diana. Many newspapers, including the New York Times, printed stories analyzing early media coverage of the crash a day after it happened. The same goes for any big news story.

At a Glance

Keep an eye on the message and how it's delivered

  • Media analysts study and comment on news, advertising and entertainment
  • The field is competitive
  • A bachelor's degree is a must, and a graduate degree is useful