Any topic (writer’s choice)

Any topic (writer’s choice)

Think about a specific concern that you have and know at least a bit about – some examples might be: immigration, health care, automation, climate change, data privacy, environmental protections, for-profit prisons, child care or family leave. 
Now, consider whether it matters if the news organizations (not the individual journalists) have a for-profit business model? Does it matter that the goal of the organization is to make money? Might that affect what and how the issue is covered? In other words, how might it impact what is said about the issue?
The Big Question: In a democracy such as ours, should our news media have a goal of maximizing profit, using a corporate model in which the shareholders’ interests – instead of public interest – dictate what is considered newsworthy and how news reporters should cover issues or events?
The Assignment: In an essay of 3-4 pages, address the question above in relation to a specific issue or event that is covered (or should be covered!) by the news, and state your position about whether a for-profit or a non-profit model is more effective.  Consider this as your thesis-searching question: in order to support a more informed, vibrant democracy, should our government do more to regulate in support a non-profit model for news journalism?
Clearly state why you believe that the government should or should not be involved in promoting* an alternative to the current for-profit, corporatized news model that we currently have.
USING A SOURCE: The situation is described by Robert McChesney in Rich Media, Poor Democracy and by Victor Pikard in The Problem With Our Media Is Extreme Commercialism.  You must summarize and respond to the claims made in one of these sources in drafting your essay. Your ideas must include specific responses to claims made in the essays/documentary. Do NOT skimp on this section.  Also, this is a requirement.  Any additional secondary sources are discouraged, although you may write me for approval to use them.
* Caution: do NOT oversimplify the issue – this is NOT a question about government controlling the news or dictating content; rather, the question is whether the government should PROMOTE (encourage by subsidies or other incentives) a not for profit model.  Remember that non-profit journalism thrives in many other countries, and the almost-exclusive for-profit model is not inevitable. 
Do you agree with McChesney or Pikard that a commercialized media is a problem in a democracy? What points do they make that are convincing to you? How might that affect – or how do you see that it does affect – coverage of the issue that you have identified as important?

The essay should make a clear point (thesis/position statement) in response to the question above. Make sure that you state your position very early in the essay. 

You should identify an issue of concern, and briefly summarize that.  You might, for example, describe a recent policy which separates children from their parents when they come to the border, and describe the basic issues with that.  Then you would turn to the importance of removing profit from any journalistic motive.

Next, you must summarize points from one of the sources listed above. 

Length of summary section: about one-two pages. In this section, accurately and objectively describe the information and claims from the source. 

Respond to the source: in this section, you will reply to the claims made about a commercialized news media.  In doing so, you will need to select a specific issue or event and think about why the news coverage of this should or should not be influenced by or driven by a for-profit motive.  Note: this can be an issue or event that you think the news is covering poorly, covering well, or not covering at all.  Think about: what do you need to know about? What do you need news organizations to cover and keep you informed about? What matters to your life and to those in your communities (work, school, family, city)?

The reply that you construct is the thesis or main point of the essay. Use the word “should” or “because” in order to make a statement that takes a position about the for-profit news model.  You may be mostly agreeing with an author, but you should work to make your own position on the topic, with your own words.
Length of this section: about two pages.

Length of essay: at least three pages, not including a separate Writer’s Memo (see below) pasted before the essay, and a separate Works Cited page.

Your purpose is to explore and then clearly explain your position on whether we have a functioning commercial news media, or whether we need to explore options for publicly funded journalism. 
Your audience is a general, educated reader, not in this class, who has not read the essay or viewed the documentary, so you must summarize those clearly, explaining the main, essential points from them.  HINT: ask someone outside the class to read this and ask them to tell you honestly if they understand who/what you are summarizing/describing.
Organization:  Your essay should have an introductory paragraph that eases the reader into the topic, body paragraphs, and a conclusion that “wraps up” and provides a satisfying ending.