The purpose of this project is to further develop your critical thinking, research skills and to encourage you to delve into an international issue of your choosing. The project consists of two components: a collection of at least four current newspaper articles related to a single international event of your choosing, and 2000 word summary-analysis paper devoted to the articles you selected for this project.
Purpose of the Paper (Examining the Production of Contemporary Historiography) – The goal of this paper is to allow you to analyze how “historiography” is an ongoing process largely influenced by the news media. History is a subjectively generated product. History incorporates the biases and viewpoints of those who produce it. The news media today is a key source in providing us with “meaning” connected to newsworthy “historical” events. In fact, the news media is in fact a major part of the process that generates “history.” Although news media reporters and editors frequently claim that they are presenting “just the facts,” the way in which these “facts” are presented often carry a number of biases that strongly influence public perception and interpretations of current events.
For this assignment, you are going to pick a specific, single international event and examine how this event is presented by different news media sources from around the globe. You are being asked to compare the articles you have selected for this assignment and discuss how the differing ways in which the event you have chosen actually reflects more than the “plain” facts, but rather reveals complex layers of social values, assumptions, biases, beliefs and meanings by each of your articles’ authors.
Selecting a Topic
1) First, select a single international news event that has occurred in the past 60 days. Since the purpose of the paper is to address international issues, the event you select for this assignment must have occurred OUTSIDE of the United States (although the issue may INCLUDE the US as one of the agents involved). There are numerous current news issues to choose from, but for this project I strongly suggest that you choose an event of a political or social nature.
If you are struggling to find a topic for this paper, you may want to check out respected news sources online such a CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, etc. to get a sense of current news events that are relevant to this assignment.
2) Your topic should be a single, recent event, not an ongoing issue. For example, you might choose to discuss a recent, single action that took place in Yemen or Afghanistan or Syria or the Central African Republic, or Palestine, etc., but you may NOT choose the overall, ongoing violence in Yemen or Afghanistan or Syria or The Central African Republic, or Palestine, etc., as your topic. For example, you could choose a single, recent protest, or meeting or act of violence that has recently occurred in Syria as your event for this paper, but you may not choose the overall ongoing civil war in Syria as your topic. A recent election (outside of the US), a newly approved law or act of legislation (outside of the US), an international political meeting, the signing of a treaty or international agreement, a single act of violence, a recent missile test, a recent day of protest or a recent military action that took place on a single day would all be possible topics for this paper. However, any paper that tries to address the entirety of the Syrian civil war, war refugees, peace in the Middle East, Aids in Africa, poverty in India, international human rights, human trafficking in Southeast Asia or drug trafficking in Mexico, etc. are all too broad for this assignment and are not appropriate topics for this class. You need to choose something much smaller – a single action or event that occurred on a specific day – as a topic for this assignment. For example, you could pick some relatively small, particular portion of an issue to focus on, such as a reaction to a controversial law that has just been passed, or a particular act of violence that recently occurred, or a recent meeting between heads of state or a recent foreign election, or a recent military intervention, etc. Also, please do not choose a sporting event, a natural disaster, a health crisis or an outbreak of disease for this assignment.
You may NOT write your paper about an event that occurred in the US, such as the recent reopening of the US government or President Trump’s push to build a border wall, since this would be a domestic issue and you must choose an international topic for this assignment.
3) You will need to have collected at least four newspaper articles on the SAME EVENT from DIFFERENT nations. You are only permitted to use one article from a US newspaper source and your other three article choices should be on the same event but each one must be selected from a DIFFERENT newspaper and from a DIFFERENT nation. In other words, each article you choose will come from a different nation’s newspaper, but all four articles must still be focused on the same event and should have been published within 48 hours of each other. This will enable you to distinguish how a particular event is presented differently in various newspapers from around the world. You may use online versions of newspaper articles. The articles may not be more than 60 days old when you submit your final paper. Please do not use op-ed pieces for this assignment (do not use articles from either the opinion or editorial section of a newspaper). You will need to submit hard copies of each of your newspaper articles when you submit your completed assignment.
Conclusion: Write a 2000 word Project Summary-Critique
4) WRITE a 2000 minimum word (double spaced, medium size 10 –12 font, standard margins) in which you provide a summary and comparison of the different articles you have selected for this assignment. You will search for differing emphases and patterns between your articles, and you will consider the differing impact each individual article might make on its reader depending on how the issue is presented and handled by each author. You are to examine and critique the differing ways in which the issue is being presented in your articles.
Also, for this paper, you need to consider how the news reports of today become the “historiography” of tomorrow. This is an opportunity for you to think critically about how the news is presented to the reader in each newspaper. Do you have a sense that certain “facts” are being emphasized in one article while those same facts are dismissed or ignored or presented somewhat differently by the authors in some of your other selected articles? Do you have a sense that only one particular side of the issue is being presented in a particular article? If so, why do you think this is happening? In what ways has the event you have selected for this assignment been reported differently in each of your articles? (Keep in mind that these differences may be subtle). In what way might these differences influence the reader to draw a different conclusion about the event? A particular new article will often (though not always) tend to focus on only side of an issue. Which sides of the issue do you see being presented in your different articles? Why do you think this might this be happening? In what way might ethnocentric perspectives or national interests be influencing how the issue is being presented differently in each of your articles? Do you see any biases built into the way that the issue is being presented or reported by the authors of your articles?
Finally, what have you learned through this process? What have you come to understand about the production of “news” and the power of the news media over the reader by comparing these different articles?