The Assignment: Bi-weekly—on even weeks—you will post 1 blog post consisting of at least 300 words (75 assessment of news source, 75 summary, 100 analysis, 50 opinion). There is a lot going on in our world, and it is important to be informed; however, we often only read news from a certain kind of source, which often skews our perspectives. With this in mind, you will only select sources on key issues every other week. Each blog will be due on the first day of class that week, and we will discuss them in class and digitally that week. Each article must be current, and you must be able to account for its validity as a new source. You must be able to identify the leanings of the news source, who funds it, and why that bias matters. True story: NO NEWS IS COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE. Fact check if you are not sure. Fake news is a huge societal problem, and identifying it is the first step to ending its circulation. Think about what is important about an article and assess it. Approach your analysis of the news source and the article through the engagement of ethos, pathos, and logos as well as interrogating logical fallacies.
The Purpose: The current atmosphere of our society politically, and otherwise, has called into question the validity of news and the problematic circulation of false information, logical fallacies, and scare tactics that force journalists into situations that make us, as readers, question their choices. What is news? What is ignored? Why is it ignored? Who says? What do we fixate on? What matters locally, nationally, globally? How has social media affected these things? Who is the authority? Why are we so quick to believe what we read on the internet? The circulation of false information is a huge problem; therefore, cultivating a critical eye for reading news and understanding the effects of positionality is incredibly important. Developing these awarenesses enable you to be a better contributor to society while also reinforcing the value of some of our constitutional rights and freedoms (particularly freedom of speech and the press).
Article Selection: The range of articles will help you become informed on topics that are affecting the US and the world. While you have free reign on article selection, please select articles that come from “news based” sources (BBC, NPR, NY Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, Fox, NBC, etc.) as opposed to entertainment (E! Huffington Post (sometimes), tabloids, popular magazine—sports illustrated, cosmo, vogue, etc. espn.com). You can access many news based sources through their websites.
Location of Current Event Blogs: We will be using www.Wordpress.com for our blogging platform. Instead of curating your own blog, you will create a wordpress username and be an author on our shared blog. Although this places you in potentially public writing situations, it is valuable to explore the blog within the context of an actual functioning blog that has all of the genre constraints and affordances. It takes a bit of time to set up (and some trial and error), but I find it to be easier to navigate and use overall. The help functions on the site are also useful and accessible.
*A note about positionality: All news is subjective (even when it tries to be objective). All news has a particular angle. I suggest exploring multiple news sources throughout the semester so that you have a well-rounded understanding of current events (it is kind of a big year). Part of your job as a reader and blogger is to explore these positions and assess value and validity of information (or, why everything we read on the internet is not true…facts and fact checking are important). Part of my job as your teacher is to challenge you to experience things both inside and outside of your comfort zone while helping you validate your existing positions in new ways with different kinds of information, and potentially re-position yourself (although this is never the goal). None of us in this room know everything; all of us can benefit from perspectives that are not our own.
**A note about opinions: I fully support your right to embrace your own opinions and positions. At no time will I inflict my own perspectives upon you; however, I will ask that you critically assess and consider the information that you are reading so that you are becoming critical of the information that you take in and do not simply accept information as “true” at face value. We will cover a huge range of topics—politics, race, religion, gender, athletics, etc., and we cannot expect one another to always agree, but we can expect one another to be respectful. Being asked why you think/feel/believe something is not a judgement of your intellect or your person, but a chance to understand how and why you have arrived at that position.
“It is the mark of an educated person to be able to entertain and idea without accepting it” ~Aristotle