Your second essay assignment, like your first, asks you to read a work of journalism closely, analyze its writing and reporting, and put it in the context of the time when it was produced and the journalist who produced it. As always in our course, we want to explore how the times shape journalism and how journalism shapes its times. Address the following questions in your essay: What are your chosen piece’s strengths and limits as a work of journalism? In what ways was the piece a product of its time? What is its long-term significance?
All of the journalists you can choose from for your next assignment worked in times closer to our own. Their writing is also closer to the way we write today.
Nevertheless, be attentive to their time and place, the issues they covered, and the kind of publication they worked for. Ida B. Wells and Jane O’Reilly are both women, but they came out of different traditions, tackled different topics, and wrote for different publications.
A good essay will draw lessons for the present, but my advice is to save that for your last paragraph. If you do that, you can avoid the tendency to blur the distinction between the past and the present.
One way to think about your last paragraph is to write it in response to this question: “Journalists like to say that they write the first draft of history. What is the value of the piece you have just analyzed as a first draft of history? Also: does it help us understand US journalism, politics or culture today?”
Also remember that it is fine to run a little long on this assignment. While it is possible to cover this assignment in 250 words, if you need 500 that is fine. Write concisely, but say everything important that you have to say.
*ATTATCHED IS THE IDA B WELLS STORY TO READ FOR THE ASSIGNMENT