Monday, November 4, 2013

Research Report__ Nisbet/Scheufele__ Jacobsen

In the wake of the recent government shutdown, the gridlock between liberals and conservatives is now more apparent than ever. The struggle is no longer between Democrat and Republican, but good versus evil and right versus wrong.  This article, written in 2012 before the presidential election of that year, foreshadowed the furlough by highlighting the prevalence of polarization in our country’s political views. The authors argue that both liberals and conservatives are losing the moderates of their parties, but that liberals cannot approach their campaigning in that way if they want to succeed. Even though I disagree with some components of the argument in this piece, it remains overall credible through its accuracy and objectivity.
The authors of this article, Matthew Nisbet and Dietram Scheufele, are both long-time scholars and professors in their fields of communication and public affairs. They each have an extensive resume, with multiple degrees from Ivy League universities (Scholars of Harvard, p. 1). Because of their backgrounds, the authors had the extensive knowledge necessary to execute this piece. However, as we learned from class in the case of journalist Jonah Lehrer, sometimes a fancy education and high-profile connections do not directly translate to credibility. But in this particular case, Nisbet and Scheufele seem to have done their research given the quality of the work and extensive reference list, not to mention that their article has been cited for other scholarly works as well (Gaziano, p. 124). The motivations for this piece appear to be straightforward, also. Both authors have been highly merited professors for many years in their respected fields. Their chosen career path is to educate individuals, and it follows that they want to further their knowledge base and academic reputation.
When analyzing an article, it’s also important to look at where it’s published. The Breakthrough Institute is an organization focused on modernizing environmentalism (The Breakthrough Institute p. 1). Their mission is to be a progressive think tank for research to transition society’s use of fossil fuels to clean and sustainable energy sources. While they criticize the idea of political parties and claim to be neutral and unaffiliated, strong environmentalism is traditionally associated with liberalism, and that is where I assume most of their readership comes from. That is also who I think this article targets. However, for the most part, I believe the authors hide their political affiliations well and remain objective throughout their article.  Only after research could I determine this slight bias due to the publication and their backgrounds. They successfully sustain the mission of The Breakthrough Institute as a non-partisan organization.

As I previously stated, I disagree with some points this article makes; however, that does not take away from the credibility of the article because the authors’ promote accuracy and objectivity throughout the piece. While the article itself focuses on liberalism and seems to target a mostly liberal audience, the author’s political affiliation remains unclear.  Overall, I believe the reader can be confident in the content of this article no matter the political affiliation.

Word Count: 504

Dietram A. Scheufele. (n.d.). Dietram A. Scheufele. Retrieved from
Matthew C. Nisbet. (n.d.). BIO SKETCH. Retrieved from
Nisbet, M., & Scheufele, D. (n.d.). THE POLARIZATION PARADOX. The Breakthrough Institute. Retrieved from
Our Mission. (n.d.). The Breakthrough Institute -. Retrieved from 

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