Monday, March 25, 2013

Six-Page Essay Assignment

Choose one of the following:

1. If you are covering the legislative simulation, write an essay comparing and contrasting your experience with that of reporters covering the real Congress. In your essay, explain the opportunities and constraints that you encountered. How did you use the participants, and how did they use you? How did coverage affect the behavior of the participants? You should draw upon course materials, including class discussions and the Malecha-Reagan book.

2. Write a postscript to the Iyengar book, dealing with the 2012 presidential race. How did the events of that campaign confirm or disconfirm Iyengar's analysis of campaign coverage (esp. chapters 5, 6, and 9). Were there any major developments that the book did not fully anticipate?

3.  Drawing on the Malecha-Reagan book, write a memo to the Republican or Democratic leadership of the House or Senate laying out a communications strategy to position the party for the 2014 midterm campaign.  In your analysis, take careful account of political circumstances and the party's status as the majority or minority.  Also note the different roles of the formal congressional party leadership, the party congressional campaign committees, congressional committees, and individual members.

4.  Pick a "niche" issue that is typically not at the top of the news agenda (e.g., food safety, NASA funding, research on Alzheimer's Disease).  Examine coverage both in mainstream media outlets (e.g., The New York Times) and specialized media (e.g., issue blogs, social media).   What facets of the issue are showing up in the specialized media but not in the mainstream media?  Examine the interaction of the mainstream and specialized media:  is one driving coverage in the other?

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Put your name on a cover sheet that is blank on the reverse side. 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, April 10. 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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