Author: Mark Noonan (Page 2 of 4)

Week 12: Complete a Draft of Your OpEd Assignment.

Upload your OpEd below.

Here are directions for the assignment: OpEdAssignment.

Please upload this assignment HERE.

For Next week (I will be posting more information on this soon):

Watch: Or Szyflingier and Jonathan Baez, “The SoHo Memory Project” (2020)

Read: Kyle Spencer, “The Memory-Keeper of SoHo” (2015)


To call a politician on a lie is our job; to bring stories of the oppressed to life is our job; to represent a cross-section of our communities is our job; to tell the truth in the face of “alternative facts” and routine obscuring is our job; and we can do all that without promoting the […] falsehood of objectivity.

Judley choose this vital quote from Lewis Wallace to focus on. It truly is a fresh call to budding journalists to re-write the many wrongs around us today with brutal honesty.

Yet, balancing a reporter’s feelings (“passion” as Chala labels it) with his/her professional duties is a tricky one.  Melissa, Marina, and Eric wisely remind us of the virtues of “sticking to the facts” to insure credibility. Offering a solution, Eric writes, “we should not [entirely] give up on ‘objective’ journalism.” Journalists should only express their point of view “after fully analyzing the facts of a story.”

At the same, Sergio and Sean provide stellar examples of when just being objective is actually being dangerously biased. Sergio refers to the mostly “political” coverage of Afghanistan (amidst so much suffering), whereas Sean discusses how important it is for journalist’s to put their paddles in the waters on the issue of “Defunding the Police.”

Anna and Daniel remind us of just how “tough” a job it is to be a journalist today given these and related concerns. Yet important work remains.  It’s unfortunate thus, as Jailyn comments, that so much news is actually pointless when so many dire concerns are facing all of us.

For this week, I ask you to work on your own OpEd topics to express your views on a topic you are passionate (and knowledgeable) about . If you haven’t done so already, start by reading an article or two on your chosen topic. Take notes (grab a quote, an image, and some statistics perhaps) and begin outlining your piece.  Upload a draft of your OpEd by next week (Wed., Nov. 17).

Here are directions for the assignment: OpEdAssignment.

Please upload this assignment HERE.

HERE is a recent OpEd by Charles Blow in response to the victory of the new Republican Governor Youngkin in Virginia (NJ just narrowly escaped electing a Republican as well).  It’s compelling to see how he connects this election result to white racial anxiety and the absurd fear of teaching actual history (labeled “Critical Race Theory”) in our schools. Also note how he connects the stirring of racial fears to various episodes throughout our history.

Over the weekend, a two week climate summit in Glasgow just ended. Please watch this speech by the courageous young lady Greta Thurnburg, who has used her voice and platform to energize a new youth movement on this issue.  In this speech, she calls out the failure of the leaders of the summit to enact meaningful change once again.

On a related note, please also watch this video by climate scientist/professor/ journalist Katherine Hayhoe. In it, she discusses her book on how to actually get folks to recognize that the problem is real.  

Video by Climate Scientist Katherine Hayhoe

Feel free to respond to the topic of Climate Change (Inaction) or the battle to teach real history in schools as your OpEd topic.  

I am available today during office hours on Zoom (Monday 4-5) to discuss or help choose your topic  (or email me at Some topics students have already chosen include 1) student debt forgiveness and 2) maintaining mental and physical health during the pandemic. Think about what matters to you. To get additional ideas, review current issues in the news (especially in the NYTimes).

Week 9: Lewis Raven Wallace on “Journalistic Objectivity” and your OpEd Assignment. Post Due: Wed., Nov. 3rd


Save the date: Tuesday 11/16 1-2pm “SoHo Memory Project”

A discussion on ZOOM of the award-winning SoHo Memory Project documentary with City Tech Prof. Josh Kapusinski (COMD, Moving Pixels Club), Jonathan Baez (City Tech alum and cinematographer), and Or Szyflingier (alum and director).

I am asking that you all attend the above event (it will be taped if your schedule won’t allow for this). I will be tying in the Documentary Discussion to your own final project proposals (Assignment #3)


Thanks for your strong opinions on the real (or perhaps overblown) dangers of social media giant Facebook and your recognition that we need more courageous Francis Haugens and Maria Ressas in the world to call out those that manipulate and falsify information (or ignore damaging consequences) in their quest for power and profit.  Who knew that Facebook was a 3 trillion dollar company and had 2.3 billion world-wide users (64 percent of everyone that uses the internet)?  It’s quite a force in the world, and one we certainly need to keep our eyes on.

While clearly a danger in so many ways, as Darnell points out, social media is also very helpful in that “it allows people to spread their opinions.”  Given the rise of big media and social media, your opinions–and a heightened critical media literacy–matter now more than ever.

For this week, I ask you to read the views of another important journalist and to hear more of what’s on your mind, specifically, in an Op-Ed that you write on an issue that matters greatly to you.

The OpEd, which stands for “opposite the editorial page,” is a short piece of writing typically published by a newspaper, which expresses the opinion of an author not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board. This genre was invented by the New York Times in 1970 and has been a mainstay of most newspapers ever since.   Interestingly, just this year, the Times announced it would now call opinion pieces “Guest Essays” (largely due to the fact that papers are now mostly on-line – i.e. not “opposite” another piece of writing on paper).

The New York Times also now has a Video Op Ed section, which we’ll discuss further next week.

The separation of opinion from the news is also part of the “professionalization” of the news that the New York Times also helped develop.  Since the early 1900s, professional reporters have been asked to be “neutral” and “unbiased” when covering stories.  Today, many in the mainstream media (PBS, NBC News, CNN, etc.) prize neutrality over virtually all other values. Being “neutral” means giving equal credence, focus, and criticism for all sides of an argument, without passing judgment as to the validity of the argument. The “neutral” reporter simply reports what the different sides of a debate assert but does not take a position.  

In 2019, Lewis Raven Wallace (in his book The View From Somewhere ) was one of the first reporters to criticize what he calls “the myth of journalistic objectivity.” To learn why, read his Op-Ed “Objectivity is Dead, and I’m Okay With It”

POST ASSIGNMENT: In a paragraph, respond to one point Wallace makes in his writing that you found interesting and important. Alternately, give a current example that speaks to the danger of journalists being too neutral or a story that isn’t being covered but should be. Post due: Wed., Nov. 3

OpEd Assignment: Over the next two weeks, I also want you to work on your own OpEd, focusing on an issue that matters to you greatly.  If you like, you can draw from an earlier post or simply take a position on an issue currently in the news. Here are directions for the assignment: OpEdAssignment. Please upload this assignment HERE. Please come to office hours (Mondays 4-5) if you wish to discuss your topic with me (or email me at

Week 8: Maria Ressa, Facebook, and The Opinion Editorial (or OpEd). Post Due, Mon. Oct. 25

Interesting posts last week, students, on the omnipresence of Fake News and the value of the First Amendment.  Based on your insightful comments, it does seem we need media venues to do their part “protecting and serving” us.  At the same time, it’s also clear that the “Fourth Estate” needs help from a watchful “Fifth Estate,” which is society itself.  We all need to be wary nowadays of what news is “useful, relevant, and factual”.   In other words, journalists and the media entities they work for require informed, critical readers and viewers, just as much as we need them.  The fifth estate then is another “set of eyes” that helps keep our democracy vibrant and vital.

Over the next two weeks, we will be hearing and learning from several courageous journalists and citizens (company insiders) who play thoughtful roles as critics of media, government, and society.

Let’s first focus on Maria Ressa, co-founder of the digital media company Rappler and an outspoken critic of iron-fisted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It’s important to note that Maria was co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize — a really big deal, especially for a female journalist.

Please listen to this interview of her as she explains her aims as a journalist and reveals her thoughts on the global assault on “truth and trust” by leaders such as Duterte, Putin, and Trump and the social media giant Facebook. She ends with some important points about the lack of women in powerful journalism positions today.

I also strongly recommend watching this longer documentary (A Thousand Cuts) on her unrelenting, courageous tactics to stand up to power in her home country.

Speaking out requires courage. Last week, as Melissa points out in her post, the story of the whistle-blower Frances Haugen was splashed across innumerable news outlets. A former, high-ranking Facebook employee Haugen quit her job at the company and explained why at a Congressional hearing.  As she alleges, Facebook’s own research showed that the media giant’s platform “amplified hate, misinformation, and political unrest” but did nothing to combat this fact.

Please watch her interview on 60 minutes.

Are the dangers of Social Media real?  This is one topic of great debate on all sides.  To find out what journalists are thinking, we can turn to the genre of the Opinion Piece, or OpEd.  Your next writing assignment will be to write your own OpEd on a topic important to you, but for this week I ask that you:

  1. Carefully “listen” to the words of Maria Cessa (in her interview and/or documentary)
  2. View the 60 minutes interview with ex-Facebook Employee, Frances Haugen
  3. Read the opposing OpEds: “For Teens, Instagram is a Cesspool” and “The Moral Panic Engulfing Instagram”
  4. Post a response that reflects your thoughts on Maria Ressa or the Facebook Debate.

Mid-term Note

We are now at the mid-point of the semester.  I have provided a mid-term grade based on your posts thus far. I have also graded completed student profiles.  Go to “Check Grade Icon” on the right to check on your standing in this course. Please complete any missing posts and/or your student profile assignment this week.

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