Those who know me are aware that Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite poet, writer, and person in history. His stories have captured and captivated me countless times, and I have numerous collections sitting on my bookshelf. So of course, I am interested in his life and death as well.
I came across the article “Edgar Allan Poe’s Final Macabre Mystery: His Own Death” which was published online at The Daily Beast on August 15th, 2021. The author, Allison McNeary, discusses the mystery of his death, of which there are countless theories: alcoholism, rabies, and murder amongst them.
This article links a few sources, including articles from the Smithsonian, Time, and Biography that recount the death of the famous poet and author. This lends credibility to the article and shows that the author did the research needed to compile all of the known facts, including the various theories of Poe’s death, the years leading up to his death, and the speculation that came out after.
The Smithsonian is a well-known, reputable organization that preserves history–the good, the bad, and the ugly. An article from their magazine can be considered trustworthy due to the historians working hard to recover and preserve humanity’s history. Time is also well-known for their credibility, transparency, and factual analysis.
The links to these sources are underlined and stand out, surrounded by contextual language so the reader knows where they are going. I opened them and read through the articles myself to verify the research done.
I would have liked to have seen McNeary’s own theory or the one she thinks is most credible included in the article, as it mostly sounds like a repeat of various sources currently without much independent thought put in. McNeary is credited as a freelance writer, formerly the editor of BeastStyle and Deputy Managing Editor of The Daily Beast. This lends credibility to her writing and journalistic capabilities. There is also an indication at the beginning of the article that it was updated on August 18th.
If I were to grade this article on media literacy, I would give it a solid B. There is room for more factual evidence and statistics, but the other elements of media literacy are present: transparency, credibility, sources, and research. I did not sense any bias or persuasive tactics to sway the reader into believing one theory over another–even though I would love to know which theory McNeary believes.