OpEd Assignment (Draft due next Tuesday, April 20)

Hi Students;

For anyone who couldn’t make or stay for the whole Literary Arts Festival, here is a recording of it. The first part consists of stellar student readings (including fellow student Farouk Fares sharing his artwork) and the second half is the amazing Staceyann Chin performing her brilliant material.  Lots of food for thought as you work on your OpEd assignment.  

By this time, you should have posted your OpEd topic.  Now read some articles in the New York Times and elsewhere for research, so that you can write a draft of your OpEd by next week (3 or more paragraphs).

Here’s a great sample OpEd on Folks Who Are Hesitant to Get a Vaccine.

Note how the two authors get to their point quickly, then address the reasons people feel they do not need to get vaccinated.  It’s opinionated and informative —  in just a few paragraphs.


Here’s a good tip sheet for writing your OpEd piece:

Op-eds are most commonly published in daily newspapers. They are typically 600–700 words, but can be shorter. Some op-eds are written by newspaper staff or syndicated writers. Many are submitted by the publication’s readers.

Writing an Op-Ed

Start with a sentence. Try to sum up your opinion in a single sentence to begin, then think about facts and anecdotes to support your initial point.

Forget objectivity. An op-ed is about your opinion and perspective. Think of it like a legal brief; no need for objectivity. Put your argument forward in a persuasive, authoritative manner. Don’t be afraid to be passionate in arguing your point.

Be informal. Write as if you are debating with a friend. Use simple, every day language that is easy to understand. Keep in mind you are writing for a general audience that may not be as familiar with your subject as you are.

Keep it short and simple. State your opinion clearly and quickly, back it up with facts and examples, then finish up. If your op-ed is longer than 700 words, editors likely will not consider using it. The News Office can help you revise, rewrite or edit your manuscript.

The Basic Op-Ed Format

Lead paragraph: Try to grab readers right away with your first sentence; make them want to read more. Start with an interesting story or example that encapsulates your point.

Supporting paragraph(s): Now that you’ve stated your point and grabbed readers’ attention, build on your lead with facts, statistics and anecdotes.

Wrap it up: In the concluding paragraph, take your argument a step further and leave readers with information about what needs to be done next. If you’re trying to move people to action, be sure to answer the question, “What can I do?” Make the final sentence as compelling as the first one. If you started with an example, bring the story full circle by referencing your original point.

Submitting an Op-Ed

Turn to the op-ed page in the publication of your choice and submit your piece using the e-mail address listed there. Be certain to include your name, the title or affiliation that substantiates your expertise on the issue and a daytime telephone number.

Here is another, more detailed tip sheet:


Again, please also sign up for the New York Times App (free for City Tech Students) to follow news stories:  New York Times account

Here’s an excellent model of an OpEd that just appeared in the NYTimes.

You could also choose to focus on an issue raised by Staceyann Chin, our LAF guest.  Here are some of her poems:

 “Crossfire,” “Tsunami Rising,” “In Those Years,” “Raise the Roof,” and “Passing,” and watch her performances as well.

Here’s an excellent article on motherhood she wrote that some of you might find of interest.

Homework Over Spring Break

Hi Everyone:

I assembled highlights from your excellent profiles on each other and put them into a single PDF. Please read and enjoy: JournalismProfilesFINAL

I graded the final versions (look at your grades in the gradebook link on the right side of our site).

I’ve learned a great deal about you from these profiles and during this semester. As we start working on our Opinion Editorial (and final feature assignment), I recommend you draw stories from your own fields and talents, as well as from posts you’ve already written.

Over Spring Break, I ask you to begin thinking about a good topic for YOUR opinion piece (OpEd). I recommend choosing a current issue that is being debated in politics, culture, the media, sports (or perhaps in your particular field of interest).

Here is a tip sheet as you start thinking about your topic (and supporting articles you might use) to write your own Op-Ed piece.


Again, please also sign up for the New York Times App (free for City Tech Students) to follow news stories:  New York Times account

Here’s an excellent model of an OpEd that just appeared in the NYTimes.

For a sample of great OpEd podcasts, check out the new NYTimes section called “The Argument”:

Lastly, if you haven’t done so yet, read an op-ed written by legendary Congressman and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis, right before his death — which he knew was coming.

Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

If you have interest, also watch this amazing commencement address he gave at CCNY in 2019: CCNY 2019 Commencement Speech

Please also read the linked article on Huge Ma, developer of Turbo Vax. Ma created his site to help all Americans find vaccination appointments but shut it down for two days to protest incidents of anti-Asian prejudice (related to the mistaken belief that — fake news really — that China purposely created the virus — a lie perpetuated by former President Donald Trump).

In a post, comment on what you found interesting about the pieces (or related news).

When we return after Spring Break, please be ready to post your topic and keep in mind that Tuesday, April 13th is the Literary Arts Festival (5-6:30 pm).

Here is the poster attachment.

Homework for Next Monday (March 15)


Tremendous work on your profiles of fellow students.  By tomorrow, I will have completed comments on your pieces in the GoogleDrive.  Spend one more week finalizing them, at which point, I’ll share them with the full group.

For this week, I want to continue our discussion about the role of the media in society today and the importance of our cherished first amendment rights—the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech.

Currently, there is a new film out on the importance of free speech, entitled The Trial of the Chicago Seven.

It stars the famous Sacha Baron Cohen (better known as Borat) who plays Abbie Hoffman who protested the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

Watch the trailer here

The job of the journalist is to tell the truth and inform readers.  Historically, however, journalists have been required to follow a code of ethics in which they are told to stay neutral when reporting stories.  In other words, they should keep THEIR opinions to themselves and just report the story.

Here is an article on how journalism developed this modern policy of neutrality.

A brash young journalist, Lewis Raven Wallace, however, has spoken out about how “being neutral” has failed Americans, who need to hear what journalists really think and not be fed the “neutral” line that “both sides” of an issue are always equal.  I’m thinking of Donald Trump’s comment, in 2018, equating white supremacists to all protesters.

Please read this profile interview with Lewis Wallace on the topic.

Lastly, I share with you a wonderful article on the value of the media in providing essential information.  The article focuses on a young innovator (Huge Ma) who came up with an extremely useful website for letting people know where and when Covid vaccinations are available: Turbo Vax.  Please share this site (provided in the article) with anybody you know who is looking to get vaccinated.

HOMEWORK: By next Monday (March 15), please post an example in the world of someone (or perhaps someone you know) whose right to free speech was curtailed/blocked.  Alternately, post a response to what you found interesting or important in one of the above linked articles (or even to the film — if you have the time).

Lastly, don’t forget about submitting to this semester’s literary arts festival.

Here is the new poster. 

It’s really cool.


Work on Your Profiles, LAF, and The History of the First Amendment

Please watch my video lecture:

  1. Consider Writing an Essay for the Literary Arts Festival
  2. Keep working on your profile assignments: two excellent models are by Zahira and Farouk
  3. For the next few weeks, follow news stories that relate to the First Amendment.

Here is a brief history of the First Amendment, which I cover in my video lecture:

1791 – Ratification of “The Bill of Rights” (First Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution)

First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment speaks to the Importance of the free circulation of the News.

Easier said than done.

1798 – Alien and Sedition Acts Passed (Prohibiting criticism of the Government)

We see the importance of the free circulation of the news in the film, News of the World, starring Tom Hanks.

Today, concerns regarding the First Amendment are again of great importance.

One can think about the abridgement of “free speech” with social media banning former President Trump from its platforms (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook).

What we say on social media can also affect our job prospects, as we learn from Neera Tandem, denied a spot as Labor Secretary for her tweets

Issues regarding free speech and the right to assemble and protest also relate globally.

Consider for example the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi ordered by Saudi Arabian Prince Bin Salman

 Or the poisoning of Navalny, a critic of President Putin of Russia

One thinks also of China’s crackdown on thousands of protestors in Hong Kong

And just yesterday, the military in Myanmar just killed 12 protestors who want their rightfully elected leader out of jail.

What do you think of these crack-downs?

Where do you stand on the right to free speech in America? 

Is enough being done to enforce free speech abuses? 

Is too much being done to squelch free speech?

Work on Profile Assignment!!!


Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your interesting discussions of what we call “news” nowadays. I will discuss your posts at length in the video lecture below. In it, I also discuss your upcoming profile assignment.

This week I want you to work with your partner and begin writing your profile of him/her. By next Monday, try to create your own document in google docs. You can upload your profile work-in-progress here: google drive link. I recommend that you Copy and paste the interview questions into your google docs files (one for each of you). This is a great way for both of you to work together if you don’t have time to zoom.

For further details on how to go about this assignment, please review the linked PDF. Here is a SAMPLE STUDENT PROFILE (Narrative Version).

Here are the interview questions you can copy and paste into your google docs document:

1.Who’s someone you admire, and why?

2.Tell me three pet peeves.

3.What’s a typical day like for you?

4.Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

5.If you could be anywhere other than here, right this minute, where would you be? (Don’t overthink it!)

6.Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?

7.If we went to your favorite restaurant, what would you order?

8.Finish this sentence. On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…

9.How do you want people to remember you?

10.What do you think are the best skills that you bring to a job?

11.Name three words that you describe you.

12.How do you think your friends would describe you?

13.What do you want to make sure you do before you die?

14.What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?

16.What publications do you regularly read?

17.What are you happiest doing, when you’re not studying or working?

18.What are some causes or issues you care about?

19.What is your current college major? What is your desired future career? 20.What would be your personal motto?

Over the next two weeks, we will also be thinking about the First Amendment and press freedom in America and across the globe. Here is a video on the topic to get us started on the topic. Just watch and enjoy (work on your profiles!). Next week, I will put this history in the context of the modern media and events transpiring today.

Homework for Next Week (1. Begin Interview Assignment and 2. Post a description and link to an interesting news item you are following)

Hi Students:

Thanks for your excellent responses to the podcast profile on Kamala Harris, the Interview with Barack Obama, and the article on Harris’ cover photo in Vogue. Many of you mentioned the “power of the image” (and viral video clip!), the details that brought out the humanity of both subjects, the use of humor, the background research, and clear focus accompanying the pieces. Now it’s your turn to write an entertaining, informative profile on a fellow student. For further details on how to go about this assignment (due in 2-3 weeks), please read the linked PDF.

1). INTERVIEW ASSIGNMENT: Contact your partner this week

I ask that you write out your profile or interview and that you include at least one photograph of your interviewee (and/or one related to his/her interests). Use either the Harris Profile or Obama Interview as a model. Below is a list of whom you will be interviewing. To contact your partner, reply to the introduction he/she posted for the first class assignment. Email me if you need help making contact with your partner: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu

Amoussou,Germaine AND Grace Peluso

Burgos,Kelvin AND Ghazy,Khaled

Reyes,Lissette AND Rivera,Kimberly

Navarro,Karen K AND Aragon,Alejandra

Mcdowell,Clifton AND Naranjo,Erika Gissel

Kane, Aminata AND Santos,Jozelyn I

Almanzar, Olga  AND Taveras, Arisleyda

Finger,Brittany AND Zeron,Ruth

Fares,Farouk Gumia AND Sharmin,Lubna

Consuegra,Pamela AND Cortez,Cristian

Santana,Zahira AND Castro,Matthew

Awada,Jawad AND Beltran,Leticia

Amoussou,Germaine AND Aragon,Alejandra

2). Post Assignment: “What Constitutes the News?” (Post by Sunday night)

This week’s video lecture (watch below) traces the history of how the very definition of “news” has changed over time. Today, “news” can be something as serious as the impeachment trial of Donald Trump or something seemingly “small” such as the sneakers Kamala Harris is wearing. Read the following two articles. One is on Bernie Sanders’ mittens. Here is link to some great memes of Bernie and his Mittens. The other article concerns a woman who put Gorilla Glue in her hair. Here’s the follow-up story. And the story continues: On Her Way to Fame! How are these stories “news”?!?!? Should they be??? As we think about this question, I ask that you post a brief description (and link) to a story you are currently following.

Assignment for Next Week (Post Due by Sunday, Feb. 14)

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your wonderfully detailed self-introductions and responses to Caroline Hellman’s article “In Defense of the Classroom.” Below, I have posted an interview with Professor Hellman. I also provide additional instructions on next week’s assignment.

For next week, I ask you to think about what makes a good interview. You will soon be conducting an interview of a fellow student soon as your first formal assignment. Please read, watch, and/or listen to the following profile/interview of VP Kamala Harris and Former President Barack Obama (who just published his memoir “A Promised Land.”) After reviewing the linked material, please post a comment about what you liked best or found interesting about the podcast profile of Kamala Harris AND the interview with Barack Obama.

  1. Let’s start with an article over the controversial cover Vogue Magazine used in the issue that featured her interview. Think about how visual imagery matters in the media today.

2. Listen to a podcast of the profile of Kamala Harris (Profile by Alexis Okeowo, Read by On-Line Editor, Chioma Nnadi)

3. Watch this brief clip of Kamala Harris calling Biden upon hearing of their victory over Trump

4. Read this interview in Vanity Fair Interview with Barak Obama on his new memoir

Please post your response by Sunday, Feb. 14.


Reminder: I am holding office hours today (Monday) at 4 pm.

Go to linK: ZOOM

Meeting ID: 874 0973 2780

Passcode: 862187

ASSIGNMENT (DUE FRIDAY): After watching the videos below, be sure to post an introduction to yourself and a comment on what you found interesting in the article “In Defense of the Classroom” by Professor Caroline Hellman. Consider replying to a fellow student’s introduction as well.

View My Introduction Below (Click on Play):

View Monday’s Office Hours, which gives additional information about how to post assignments and related questions:

Welcome to City Tech and English 1151: Introduction to Journalism. This is an asynchronous class that only meets virtually. I will hold weekly office hours on Zoom and will post assignments every Tuesday. You are required to complete your post assignments by noon on Friday. We will also be keeping in regular contact via emails and twitter accounts, which I will help you set up.

We are continuing to live through a very difficult time in our city, country, and world, and trying to adapt. In our class, we will prioritize intellectual nourishment, community, and humanity. If you have any concerns about the course or college, or if there is any situation preventing you from participating, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

I can be reached at: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu

Professor Mark Noonan

Join this Course

Login to your OpenLab account and follow these instructions to join this course.

If you’re new to the OpenLab, follow these instructions to create an account and then join the course.

Remember that your username and display name can be pseudonyms, rather than your real name. Your avatar does not need to be a picture of your face–just something that identifies you on the OpenLab.


If you need help with the OpenLab, you can consult OpenLab Help or contact the OpenLab Community Team.

Here are your responsibilities for Week One (complete by Friday 2/5):

  • Register for OpenLab and request membership to our course site
  • Create a free New York Times account
  • Look around our course site  and explore the different tabs. This is our classroom for the semester. 
  • Check out Course Info, where our  WEEKLY SCHEDULE for classwork and homework lives.
  • Check out my introduction! In it, I walk through our course site so it’s clear how to participate in our class, and where to find everything you need.
  • To write your own post, simply look on top of MY post and click on comments. A comment box will then appear. Type in your comment and click post. You can also respond to the posts of other students by pressing reply.
  • Write your own 1-2 paragraph  introduction by posting below this post.  Say a little about yourself. Discuss your interest in taking this course. Mention your use of news outlets and/or social media. Talk about your hopes, worries,  and any questions related to our class, college, and being an online student.
  • Check back in to see what your classmates are saying, and reply  to a couple of people.
  • Read Caroline Hellman’s “In Defense of the Classroom” and post a comment about what is gained or lost being in the online classroom. Alternately, discuss one particularly effective strategy the author uses (e.g., its title, use of quotes, image, conclusion, use of details, word choice, or paragraph length). In other words, how does the strategy contribute to making the piece a successful example of journalistic writing?

We are all in this together! I look forward to meeting you and working with you.

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