International Issues Paper Instructions–Spring 2016
You are required to turn in a one paragraph summary of which recent international
event you INTEND to write your paper on to your TA on the evening of May 4 (the
night of the midterm).
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. You will also need to include a “works cited” or
bibliography page along with hard copies of each of your news articles when you submit your
essay on Wed., May 25, 2016.
All materials for this project are due to your TA in lecture on Wed., May 25, 2016. Late papers
will lose 10 points for each day they are late.
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 Egypt or Afghanistan or Syria or the
Ukraine or the Central African Republic, but you may NOT choose the overall, ongoing violence
in Afghanistan or Syria or the Ukraine or The Central African Republic 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 ongoing civil war in
Syria as your topic. A recent election, a newly approved law or act of legislation (outside of the
US) an international 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. However, any paper that tries to address the entirety of the Iraq or Afghan War,
the Arab Spring, Peace in the Middle East, Aids in Africa, poverty in India, International gay
rights, international human rights, human trafficking in Southeast Asia or drug trafficking in
Mexico are all too broad for this assignment and are not appropriate topics. You need to choose
something much smaller – a single action or event – 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,
health crisis or outbreak of disease for this assignment.
You may NOT write your paper about the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH 370.
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 should
not be more than 60 days old when you submit your final paper. Please do not use op-ed pieces
(articles from the opinion or editorial section of a newspaper or other form of media) for this
assignment. 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
International Issues Paper Instructions–Spring 2016