Wednesday, February 4, 2015

First Essay Assignment, Spring 2015

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

Choose one:

1. Compare and contrast how Gary Hart handled the 1987 Donna Rice story  (see the Bai reading) with the way in which a later presidential candidate dealt with a personal-life controversy (e.g., Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers in 1992, George W. Bush and his DUI in 2000, Herman Cain and sexual harassment allegations in 2012).  Did the candidate handle it well?  If so, why? If not, what could the candidate have done differently?

2.  Find a recent (Since January 2014) example of muckraking journalism.  In light of Graber's observations on muckraking, explain its impact.  Did it produce change in public policy or social behavior?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

3.  In 2013, Rand Paul got in trouble for plagiarism in speeches and at least one book.  Has any other potential presidential candidate done the same?   Find an article, speech, book, or some other public document in which the candidate "borrowed" someone else's words without attribution.  If you cannot find outright plagiarism, explain where the candidate (or speechwriter) got the underlying ideas. Why did the candidate use these words (or ideas) for this particular audience?

4.  Write an op-ed, which 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 For more information see under “Resources” (but note that some of the contact information may be out of date).

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Cite your sources with endnotes (not footnotes). 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 to the class Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM on  Thursday, February 19. 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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