University of California Production of Contemporary Historiography Paper
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 Yemen or Afghanistan or Syria or the
Central African Republic, or Palestine, etc., but you may NOT choose the overall, ongoing
violence in Yemen or Afghanistan or Syria or The Central African Republic, or Palestine, etc., 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
overall ongoing civil war in Syria as your topic. A recent election (outside of the US), a newly
approved law or act of legislation (outside of the US), an international political 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 would all be
possible topics for this paper. However, any paper that tries to address the entirety of the Syrian
civil war, war refugees, peace in the Middle East, Aids in Africa, poverty in India, international
human rights, human trafficking in Southeast Asia or drug trafficking in Mexico, etc. are all too
broad for this assignment and are not appropriate topics for this class. You need to choose
something much smaller – a single action or event that occurred on a specific day – 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, a health crisis or an outbreak of disease for this assignment.
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