What Works weekly assignments

I wanted to provide more detail about your weekly WHAT WORKS assignments:

Each Tuesday, students will be expected to bring in a news story that “worked” (it can be print, video, radio, infographic, slideshow or any combination thereof); students should be prepared to defend during class the elements they found to be the most/least effective (i.e., if an otherwise strong news story about a war battlefront moving forward into new territory does not have a map, make a note of it). 

Not everyone will be asked to present their example every week, but a brief write-up, along with a link to the story, is expected from each student. These write-ups should be submitted via email for the first two weeks of class.

They will be posted to your class blog in subsequent weeks.

FOR THIS WEEK: You may choose any article/news story, but please pay particular attention to any strong interview elements.


Please see the example below from a prior class – this is what I would consider ‘A’ work. (Also please note the format — the headline of the story you chose to critique, linked directly to the article itself):

Headline: As Harvard’s admissions policy goes on trial, alleged victims of racial bias remain anonymous 

This recent article from the Washington Post details a lawsuit being brought against Harvard University on grounds of racism against Asian-American students. This is the first time Harvard’s selective admissions process will be detailed, with considerations of race being a key topic in the proceedings. However, the Asian-Americans who brought the claims against the school will not testify, and are instead choosing to remain anonymous.

I chose this article for this assignment because I am interested in news about higher education. Harvard’s admissions standards are among the most stringent in the world, and I think it’s fascinating that a group of students who were not admitted would stand up to such a prestigiously viewed institution. I also think it’s very interesting how the students are choosing to remain anonymous. While the article cites reasons of harassment and privacy for their choosing to remain anonymous, I think that knowing a bit about the students raising this cause would be a worthy addition to not only the article, but the case itself. I do think that respecting their privacy is important, but I believe that it would be a more compelling argument if the audience knew a little bit more about the students involved. I know that is this not the Washington Post’s fault, but I find it frustrating because part of the article seems a bit incomplete because of their anonymity. I thought it was a good move to steer the article in that direction, with the headline directly referring to it.

In this vein, I would be interested to see how their applications and statistics compared to other students who were admitted. This would have possibly been an interesting visual element for the piece. I think a chart or graph about admissions stats would be fascinating. It could include things like test scores and GPA requirements for not only Harvard but other Ivy League schools. Another noteworthy element to examine would be racial backgrounds/profiles of students admitted to these schools. The bottom of the article contains several statistics related to this, and I think these could have been highlighted visually. Additionally, if the Washington Post had written or reported on any other admissions matters, those would be good additional articles to link to further drive traffic to other pieces on their site.

A good follow-up piece would be one that took a long look at how race factors into admissions policies through education. It could look at not only undergraduate programs, where this topic seems to come up most often, but private K-12 schools and graduate schools. The article mentions a 2016 case involving a white female from the University of Texas and I think it’s an issue worth exploring for a longer, more historical piece. Affirmative action has been a long discussed and debated issue, and I think an article of this type would appeal to those who are interested in issues of not only race, but higher education as well.


Facebook post sparks call to rename Ole Miss Journalism Schoool for Ida B Wells. 

As an Ole Miss student, I heard that other news organizations were writing about the Meek School of Journalism after Edd Meek’s post. It has been a while since Mr. Meek agreed to have his name taken off the school, but I did not know that there had been a petition to put up a new name.

I found this article while looking up Ole Miss news on a Yahoo search browser. This story was featured on the New York Daily News.com.

The article is about how a group of Ole Miss instructors and grad students want to name the Journalism School after civil rights leader Ida B Wells.

One thing I like about the article is how relevant the information is to me. I did not know about the petition before I read this article. I also like how they added a link to the Daily Mississippian in the article.

Personally, I did not like how the author referred to the Meridith riots as background information. I understand that it was used to describing Ole Miss’s long history of racism, but I feel that the university has come past that era. I felt the information about the Confederate statues and the plaques were more relevant to the time.

Overall, I thought it was a well-written story. On a personal note, I think naming the J school after Ida B. Wells would be a good thing. It would be the first building to be named after an African American female on the Ole Miss campus.

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