Thesis

A thesis is the core argument being presented in the story. In a strictly factual story, this is the core factual assertion, e.g., “A man robbed a bank on 5th street.” There will be many other factual details surrounding that assertion, but that is the core. Most news stories today, however, are not so straightforward. Most are a form of persuasive writing, often presented as simply reporting the news. For example, “Covid deaths in X state rose while Y Covid policy was in place.” Such a thesis could be a factual discussion of stats, but, depending on how it is presented in the story, it could be part of a persuasive piece arguing that Covid deaths rose because of that policy. This is one of the most important skills in reading the news: pinpointing exactly what the story is actually saying.

To fill out this section, start by determining what the thesis actually is. Sometimes it is a simple sentence laid out near the beginning of the article. Other times it is much more convoluted and never directly stated, but only laid out through implication. Then, determine if that thesis is a fact (falsifiable statement), opinion (non-falsifiable statement), or other (something that does not fit cleanly into either of the other two categories).

Next, paraphrase that thesis: put it into your own words. Once you have laid out what you understand the thesis to mean, it makes clear what the story has to prove to prove its thesis true.

Finally, summarize any evidence supporting the thesis. Now that you know exactly what what kinds of evidence would be relevant to proving the thesis, see if any of that is included in the story, and ignore evidence that is not on point.