Media Justice: Why Citations Matter

This is a guest post by Bianca of Latino Sexuality and of The LatiNegr@s Project. I’ll be cross-posting and blogging! Read a bit more about me when we introduced The LatiNegr@s Project team.

cross posted from my Media Justice column
by Bianca Laureano

You may want to bookmark this post for future reference. For many of you in school (high school, college, a vocational school) you are most likely going to be expected to write something. Each semester I have students write at least two papers, which is something that we are encouraged to do in an effort to support and expect students to be able to express themselves through writing. With all of the advances in technology, many folks are writing online. When you write, citations are important.

Citations are not just for the reader, but they are also for you, the writer and the folks whose work you find useful. These citations are so important; they shows you have done your research, are open to other perspectives, and can offer ways for the reader to go back and read those citations and make their own opinions. They are also important because naming the people whose thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and work makes them visible. Often youth, working class people, folks with disabilities, who are trans* or people of Color rarely get the attention, support, and simple naming of their work that other folks receive. Our names are powerful and choosing not to name someone, or ignoring their name is a form of erasure. This happens too often, even within and among marginalized groups.

As someone who requires a paper using media literacy skills and examining different forms of media, citations are one area where my students struggle. With the advancements of the Internet, various websites, and social media networks where students find their information, they rarely know how to properly cite them in a paper. This article is for those of you who are trying to figure out how to cite these new forms of information collection! Some of these may change (such as citing Facebook Fan Pages and the like) as new forms of online communication and virtual spaces evolve. So this page will definitely be outdated one day.

I tell my students I don’t care if they use MLA, APA or Chicago Style, as long as they are consistent. An amazing resource online is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.  I encourage you to visit the site and spend some time becoming familiar with what is shared and how it will impact your choice in citations. Below are some examples on how to cite certain forms of print, non-print, and web-based media.

How to Cite a Film
Films need to be cited using the title (in italics), name of the director, studio/distributor, release date and if necessary a list of the cast/performers. A great place to find information about a film or television show is the Internet Movie Database. Let’s use the film Pariah as an example in MLA format:

Pariah. Dir. Dee Rees. Performers Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans and Aasha Davis. Focus Features. 2011. Film.

(You can use the same format for MLA citations of a VHS or DVD just change the “Film” part to the format that the film is in).

Here’s how to cite in a paper:

There are not many films that center the experiences of young Black lesbian women living in Brooklyn in major theaters and the few that do exist rarely are limited release (i.e. Pariah, 2011).

How to Cite a TV Episode
For television series you have to know the name of the episode (this is where IMDb is useful too), title of the show/series, network, original air date, and city and state of the studio or distributor. Depending on the format you may also need to list the writer and director. Here’s an example using the TV series Pretty Little Liars (which my students seem to enjoy watching).

King, I. Marlene (Writer), Shepard, Sara (Writer) & Friedlander, Liz (Director). 2010. The Jenna Thing [Pretty Little Liars]. ABC Family. J. Bank (Producer) & L. Cochran-Nielan (Producer). Burbank, CA: Warner Horizon Television.

Here’s how to cite this in a paper:

In this episode, the clothing of the cast caught my attention and this is where we are introduced to the different styles of each character and how it connects to their personality (Pretty Little Liars, 2010).

How to Cite a Song
Citing a song is often done first by the name of the artist or performers. Included in the citation is the name of artist/performer, title of album (italicized), name of the song (in quotes if used), date of publication, recording manufactures information (i.e. record label), and the format (i.e. CD, MP3, Digital File, etc.). Let’s use Big Freedia’s Hits Album, where she has self-distributed her own album. Here’s MLA examples below:

Big Freedia. Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1, 1999-2010. Big Freedia, 2010. MP3.

Another example of a group I’ve written about who are on a major label and focusing on a specific song includes:

Dead Prez. “Mind Sex.” Let’s Get Free. LOUD Records, 2000. CD.

When you cite this in the paper you do so like this:

When Dead Prez talk about getting to know one another before engaging in sexual activity, they are sending a message that supports abstinence (2000).

How to Cite a Website (Wikipedia is always popular!)
I encourage you to ask your instructor first before citing Wikipedia. Some folks are not in favor of using Wikipedia as a source because as a collective form of documentation, some information can change or not be factual. There are often citations at the bottom of the Wikipedia page and if you can go to the original source you should use those first as citations. Wikipedia has also offered a useful guide to citing their site. 

Let’s use the Wikipedia entry for Advocates For Youth in APA format. The same format that you use to cite a book or printed publication is what you use for online sites. The additional information needed is the year and date of publishing (or just the date of publication), and full web address and date retrieved (make sure you put the location, i.e. Wikipedia, in italics). Here’s an example:

Advocates For Youth. In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 2, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocates_for_youth

To cite in the paper and text, a simple form is often ok; however sometimes when you paraphrase or quote from a particular paragraph on the site you’ll need the title of the heading (i.e. “Programs”) or the number of the paragraph you are citing (“Programs” para. 2). Wikipedia offers a more in-depth discussion of citing specific paragraphs and headings at their site.  For a more general in-text citation do the following:

Advocates For Youth is based in Washington, DC and have US and international programs (“Advocates For Youth,” 2012).

How to Cite a Tweet
Let’s use this Amplify Tweet as an example.

What you need for all forms of citations include: The original tweet, name on/of the account, date the tweet was sent, and the link to the tweet. Below is an example in APA format:

Advocates For Youth. (2012, May 12). Tell the Obama Administration: Stop Endorsing Homophobic and Sexist Program in Our Schools ow.ly/aF8l2. [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/#!/AmplifyTweets/status/197793985740288000

When you want to use this as a reference in your paper you will cite it as name on/of the account followed by the date. Here’s an example:

Advocates For Youth has been vocal about challenging the Obama Administrations endorsements programs in the US schools that they state are homophobic and sexist (Advocates For Youth, 2012).

How to Cite an Personal Interview or Email
For a personal interview or email communication you’ll need the specific date (including day, month and year), the person’s name and the format. Here’s an example if you received an email from me telling you how excited I am to share the link to this post with you and you wish to cite it in MLA format:
Laureano, Bianca. Personal Email. 2 May 2012.

To cite this in text you would do so in the following way:

My first opportunity to hear about a post featuring ways to properly cite virtual spaces and forms of media was when I received a email from the author (Laureano, 2012).

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