The purpose of this assignment is to allow you to link our class readings and topics with “real world” issues of government and politics. You should use this assignment as an opportunity to take some time and think critically of the world around you. Additionally, it is also an occasion for you to apply some of the knowledge that you have acquired in this course. To accomplish this, you must write a short reaction paper based upon newspaper article(s). To that end, you will need to collect, read, analyze, and evaluate a set of new articles (2 total) relevant to a topic of interest to you regarding US government.
The paper has to meet the following basic requirements:
- Double Spaced
- Careful attention to spelling and grammar
- Indicate knowledge of the subject
- Demonstrate critical thinking and evaluation skills
- Maximum of 5 pages in length (most submissions will likely run 2-3 pages)
- Accompanied by a link to, or copy of, the article being used
- Material chosen should be journalistic news articles, not opinion pieces, blogs, or similar. Failure to differentiate a news article from an opinion/editorial piece will result in a reduced score for the assignment. If you are uncertain of the difference between a news article and an op/ed piece, please consult with staff at the library.
This paper is not intended to be an intense research project. It is designed to be a forum for you to critically evaluate political issues from your own perspective and viewpoint. Ultimately, I am interested in hearing what you think. The topic for this paper must be taken from any of the following five sources – New York Times (Links to an external site.), Washington Post (Links to an external site.), Wall Street Journal (Links to an external site.), Christian Science Monitor (Links to an external site.), or The Economist (Links to an external site.). The article must be dated after the start of this term. All are available online. If you have questions about the appropriateness of an article or topic, feel free to discuss the matter with me. You must limit your search to the aforementioned news sources and you may NOT use other sources to find your articles (without prior permission of your instructor).
Listed below is a general overview of expectations for the analysis of each article.
To help you write the paper, I have provided a list of some the common questions that get asked along with some general answers. I hope that this will help you as you start to write your papers.
Q. What topic should I pick?
A. Pick a topic that interests you. Almost any topic is fair game, so long as it is a current issue. (In other words, the newspaper article you select must not be older than the start of this term. The only basic requirement that you need to keep in mind is that your topic has to be in some way related to the material that we have, or will, cover in class. If you are unsure about your topic or how to connect it to the class material, talk to me. Picking a topic that you find interesting will make it much easier for you to write the paper. I will not provide a finite list of topics to chose from. Rather, I am asking you to choose a topic of interest to you.
Q. Do I have to do any research for this paper?
A. No. I do not require that you produce a bibliography, or that you cite additional sources of information. However, you do need to get the facts correct. If there are sections of your article or topic that you do not fully understand, or are confused by, then you will have to do some basic research to find these answers before you can offer up an opinion on the subject. I want a well developed and thought out reaction paper. Authors of papers who are ignorant of the basic facts and knowledge surrounding their topics will suffer the consequences at grading time. For example, if you were to choose to write a reaction paper about the President Obamaâ€™s decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, you need to have an understanding of the situation and what a insurance programs will be affected by his actions. Do you understand why there is a controversy surrounding the use of federal money for this type of insurance program? Your book should be able to shed a great deal of light on the nuts and bolts of politics in America, but recent political developments and news events may require that you turn to other sources of information for clarification.
Q. How can I possibly write at least two to three pages?
A. The best way to approach this assignment is not to focus on the length, but on the content. What are you going to say? Your task will be made much easier if you pick a topic that you find interesting. Start your paper off with a brief summary of the article(s). (This should not be more than a page or two in length.) Imagine you are trying to provide someone an overview of the story who may not know anything about the article you read. After providing a summary of the article(s), link the subject matter of the article to class material. Here, I am looking to see if you can recognize and identify course content in the real world. Follow this up by attempting to answer some of the following questions. What was the point of the article? Do you agree with the perspective put forth by the story? What points do you agree with? Disagree? One of the best ways to write your paper is to read the article that you have chosen. Set it aside and start writing what comes to mind. Did the article make you mad? Are there issues that the article failed to address? If you were to write an editorial on the same topic, what would you say? Do not be afraid to include your opinion when you write. I do not score based on whether I agree with your perspective. Rather, I am looking for you to defend or justify the stance you take, based on course material and other relevant information.
I will be glad to provide some assistance with your papers. Remember, this is an excellent way to boost your overall course grade, but I do expect that you put some time and energy into it.