Short Writing Assignment #1

J201: Short Writing Assignment #1 – Due Thursday, February 1 by midnight on*

Interview a person in their sixties or older about their mass media experiences in the twentieth century, especially with news. Use the questions below as a starting point. Then write a short essay between 500 and 600 words describing, analyzing, and reflecting on the media life of your interviewee.

If you don’t have a family member or other acquaintance in this age bracket, you can interview the relative of a friend, as long as that person isn’t already the interviewee for someone else taking the course.

Assignment requirements:

  • 500-600 words
  • You may use first-person (“In my interview with…..” or “From such-and-such, I concluded….”)
  • The essay should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. For instance, you could have an introductory paragraph giving an introduction to your subject and what the key takeaways were from your interview, body paragraphs analyzing the content of your interview, drawing out themes, and reflecting on their media experiences, and a conclusion, maybe reflecting on what surprised you most. Make sure you don’t simply recount the whole interview but instead focus on your own analysis of the content.
  • Write in Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced
  • Put your name, the participant’s name and age, and the relationship you have with your interview participant at the top of the page
  • Paraphrase your interview. However, if there’s a great quote, you can include what your participant said verbatim in quotation marks.
  • Include only information that seems the most poignant or interesting. For example, if your participant didn’t say anything interesting about radio, no need to include that. Focus on what you found interesting.
  • APA style is not required, since you won’t have discussed it in section yet, but feel free to get a head start practicing it:


Possible questions you could ask:

  • When you were growing up, how did your parents get their news? What newspaper subscriptions did they have, if any? When and why did that change, if it did?
  • How did you consume news growing up? As an adult? How did you hear about world or national events? When and how did that change in your lifetime?
  • What do you remember about your experiences with radio?
  • What kinds of radio programs, if any, did you listen to (entertainment, music, talk, )? When were they on, and why did you like them?
  • In what ways, if any, did TV shape your home life?
  • What do you remember about the nightly TV news broadcasts of the 1950s and 1960s? Did your family have a favorite anchor and why?
  • Anything else you want to share?

*Be on the lookout in Week 1 for an email from your TA with instructions on how to sign up for