Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First Essay Assignment

Below is your first essay assignment.  You may find tips on writing and research here.

Choose one:

1. Pick any news event (e.g., speeches, press conferences, Sunday morning talk shows) since January 1, 2013 for which you can get a full transcript, recording, or video. Read the coverage of that event in three major mainstream news sources (e.g., New York Times, Politico). How did each define the story? On what sources did the stories draw? Did any miss something important? Explain in light of the papers’ audiences, constraints, and organizational processes. You may find transcripts at:

2. Pick any current (2013) event in United States. Compare and contrast coverage in two American and two non-American sources (from different countries). How did each define the story? Did any show a bias? Did any miss something important? In your essay, try to find some outside documentation of the event in question (e.g., government sources) and learn about the news organizations. Distinguish between coverage that an organization produces and wire stories that it merely carries. Remember that coverage may consist of more than one story and may involve more than one day. Possible sources:
3. Assume that W. Joseph Campbell has invited you to add a brief new chapter to the book. Identify a post-2005 media myth, and explain how it spread.

4. Write an op-ed on any topic that we are discussing. The op-ed should run no more than three pages. Then add a fourth page, discussing strategy for publishing it. Tell where you would submit it, and why you think it could win acceptance. If you publish this op-ed, you will get an A for this assignment. (To qualify for the auto-A, it must appear in a legitimate, professional news outlet. Blogs, newsletters, and student publications do not count.) For more information see http://www.theopedproject.org under “Resources” (but note that some of the contact information may be out of date).

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages. 
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style). 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. 
  • Return essays by the start of class on Wednesday, February 20. Essays will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness and a full grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.

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