Unit 1: Report as Argument
In the age of “fake news” and social media “echo chambers,” it comes as no surprise that reports of major news events, issues, and individuals develop particular perspectives and, ultimately, arguments. From the headline to the individuals interviewed to the “facts” included or omitted, news reports craft implicit arguments about the topics they cover. While we might decry “biased” news reporting and call for “objectivity,” the reality is much more complex because the bias exhibited in news reports may be conscious or unconscious. To help develop our understanding of the ways that positionality and interpretation develop implicit arguments, we will discuss both unconscious bias and rhetorical appeals in news reporting. Over two assignments, you will analyze conflicting reports of an event, issue, or individual and produce your own reports that demonstrate alternative interpretations. To prepare for these assignments, we will discuss the rhetorical situation, explanation and definition as argument, and the analysis and production of text-based arguments. We will also begin discussing how to conduct research, as you will need to thoroughly understand the topic you are reporting on.
Invention Writing Prompt: Report Argument Analysis
Your first Invention Writing assignment is to find and analyze two reports that provide different interpretations of and arguments about a single topic. There are no parameters on the publications or topics for this assignment—just that the reports provide two different perspectives on the same subject. You will analyze the two interpretations by providing brief summaries of the content, an overview of each report’s rhetorical situation (author, audience, context, exigence, medium, etc), and a close reading of how they develop different interpretations. You do not need to make a claim about which of the articles is more or less “factual” or “biased,” but you should point to the significance of the difference in interpretation.
This Invention Writing is considered complete if the IW
- summarizes two articles on the same topic with different interpretations,
- places each argument within a specific rhetorical situation,
- provides a close reading (including direct quotes) of how the reports develop an argument,
- indicates the significance of the two interpretations,
- is at least 500 words, and
- is posted to the course website on time.
September 10—Invention Writing 1 due to WordPress site; use “Report Argument Analyses” category
Writing Project Prompt: Reporting from Multiple Perspectives
This unit will culminate with each of you reporting from multiple perspectives. That is, you will choose a single topic and report on that event for two different audiences. We will brainstorm potential topics in class and you will conduct independent research. You will then choose two publications with different audiences and compose two reports about your topic. When choosing topics and publications, I encourage you to think beyond heavily discussed and highly polarized or politicized topics as well as beyond mainstream news media outlets. For instance, you might consider how a high school football game would be reported differently in the school’s respective newspapers. Or, think about the way that a horror film might be reported on in a horror review website or on a parenting blog. Or, how a beached whale might be discussed differently in a scientific news report or a local newspaper. Additionally, your topic does not need to be timely, but it does need to have occurred or be based in reality. Returning to the previous examples, you might cover a football game, film, or beached whale that happened two years ago as if the event is newsworthy.
Before each report, you must include a brief introductory note indicating (1) your chosen publication, (2) a description of the content and perspective of that publication, and (3) the perceived readership of the publication. Your publication and audience should dictate the length and tone of each report. Although this will be text-based, you might consider including images, tables, or typographic styling based on your chosen publication and audience. When drawing from research you conducted about the topic, you should cite that information appropriately. Again, this will differ based on the publication (hyperlinks or information about the author, title, and publication might be good starts), but you will be expected to provide a Works Cited page in MLA style (this is a college writing class, after all!).
I encourage you to experiment with this assignment by writing for a publication and audience that you might not be a part of. The goal of this assignment is to understand how the same information can be interpreted in multiple ways and the methods used by writers to develop implicit arguments that challenge or reaffirm readers’ worldviews. With that in mind—as well as this course’s policies on diversity and inclusion and ethically responsible argumentation—you should not produce caricatures for this assignment. That is, you should respect all imagined readers as well as all the groups implicated in your report. Reports should not be directed against individuals or communities based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, socioeconomic status, or national identity.
September 17—First draft due to D2L discussion board
September 24—Revised draft due to D2L submission portal
October 3—Instructor feedback returned
October 8 and 10—Conferences and self-evaluations due to D2L submission portal
Maker’s Memo Prompt
Your Maker’s Memo will serve as an introduction to your Report Contexts and Reports and should provide an overview of the choices that you made as a writer throughout the invention, drafting, and revision process. Your Maker’s Memo should address the following:
- What you tried to accomplish in writing your two reports
- How you decided on the topic, publications, and audiences
- You may include publications and audiences that you did not choose and why
- How you developed two different perspectives on the same topic
- Reference specific instances in your reports that demonstrate how you address your audiences
- How you decided on the topic, publications, and audiences
- The research you conducted on your topic, publications, and audiences
- How you chose the specific articles you use as reference points for your reports
- How you integrated sources into the reports
- The choices you made in revision
- Make specific references to places in the text that you revised and describe your choice for making such a revision
- Reference feedback from peer reviewers and myself
- If you chose not to make changes based on feedback, you must indicate why
- What you learned about writing, reports as a genre, and implicit, text-based arguments in this unit
- Did you review the assignment prompt and the rubric?
- Do you have two reports written for two specific publications and audiences about the same topic?
- Do you provide context for each of your reports and demonstrate your knowledge of the publications and audiences?
- Do you integrate research into your reports? Are there integrated citations for those sources?
- Do you have a Works Cited page?
Submit a .doc or .docx file to the D2L submission portal titled “WP1 Report from Multiple Perspectives.” Please title your document using the following convention: “LastNameFirstName_WP1Final.”
Submit a single document that includes the following:
- Maker’s Memo (see prompt above)
- Report 1 Context (identify publication and audience with supporting explanation/evidence)
- Report 1
- Report 2 Context (identify publication and audience with supporting explanation/evidence)
- Report 2
- MLA Works Cited