As we explore political commentary in my media class, I ask my students to have a daily diet of news. NPR, BBC, HuffPo, conservative talk radio, NYT, Esquire politics blog. As long as it is news. I want them to read, absorb, challenge, gain passion. I hope this becomes a lifelong habit, exploring the world.
We will explore “the fictional current that flows beneath the stream of reality.”
In order to discover that fictional current, we need to seek out competing opinions…but first, we need to find a story, just one, that will create enough passion to want to seek out more.
As I went around the classroom, asking what news the students had discovered, I was met with a few tidbits. Certainly, the meteor and the Pope were discussed. And, a few students found some off-the-beaten-path-news. We had a small impassioned discussion about recent comments made by an Alabama representative. The class was engaged… but not on fire.
Cut to a peer review. As students broke into pairs to review their recent community narratives, one student came over to my desk, laptop open, clearly excited. She showed me a story, and we scrolled to the comments. There was an air of can-you-believe-this in her tone, and then she said something that every professor of media longs to hear.
“There are so many wonderful, terrible statements in the news today. I had a hard time picking just one.”
There. Engaged. Passionate. Ready to write.
So, my assignment for Thursday was for all of my students to arrive
having found “wonderful, terrible” stories.