Production of Contemporary Historiography
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’
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.
2) Your topic should be a single, recent event, not an ongoing issue. For example, you might
choose to discuss a recent single, violent action that took place in Egypt or Afghanistan, but you may NOT choose the overall, ongoing violence in Egypt or Afghanistan
as your topic. Or you might choose a single recent protest that has occurred in Syria as your event for this paper, but you may not choose the overall uprising 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.
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.
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 you
You must include a hard copy of all of your newspaper articles with your final paper. You must include a bibliography/reference page with your final paper. You must
include a word count on your paper.
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