Write a two-page critical essay analyzing a current event/topic/story. This requires the selection of one or more recent news stories published in print (a newspaper, magazine, or prominent news website) and/or broadcast on television or radio from April 1, 2018 to the present. You should introduce the content and argument of the event/topic/story briefly in a paragraph or so. It is up to you to decide whether your essay will focus on a single written news story or the way that an event/topic has been described in the media more generally in recent months or years. If you focus on an event/topic that has received different sorts of media coverage (e.g., gentrification in San Francisco) over a period of time (say affordable housing in New York this past year), you will likely need to spend more space describing what the key attributes of that media coverage are so as to set up your argument for what that coverage is missing or what it obscures.
After a brief summary of your event/topic/story, you should move onto your critical analysis. This analysis should aim to deconstruct the argument/perspective presented or show its underlying assumptions, or present a perspective that you think is missing from that story. Generally, how might the conceptual and historical knowledge you’ve gained from Cities enhance our understanding of the event/topic/story discussed?
Some things to possibly consider: Journalistic accounts of current events and urban issues often follow a “pros vs. cons” model. In the story or set of stories you choose to critically discuss, are pros and cons balanced? If not, how might they be? If they are, do you think the “pros vs. cons” approach accurately represents the issue at hand, or does it falsely suggest that both sides of the issue are equally valid?
Journalists write for particular audiences. Who is the intended audience of your story? Does the story or set of stories you are considering adopt the implicit perspective of a person, group, or organization? If so, what perspective does it adopt, and why might this perspective not be the best one for understanding the issue at hand?
Overall aims: Take a position; make an argument. The goal of this essay is for you to use evidence, theoretical concepts, and/or historical/geographical knowledge to argue why a story is misrepresented, needs elaboration, or is worthy of praise for capturing the complexity of an issue.
Format: 2-pages, 12-point font, single- or double-spaced. Include your name and RUID on every page. References can be included on a separate page or as footnotes. You are welcome to present your essay stylistically as an Op-Ed or a long Letter to the Editor – common journalistic formats – but this is not necessary or expected.
Topic selection: Issues of suburban change, gentrification, inner-city renewal, urban design, community development, real estate investment, etc. feature in the news every week, so it is up to you to find text (written or spoken via radio/TV) that both interests you and is worthy of responding to in essay form.