Writing 220: The President and the Press

My final project considers the topic of misinformation in terms of the clash between the Presidency and the press over control of the truth. The concept sprouted directly from the verbal clash between President Trump and CNN Reporter Jim Acosta at the White House in November, as claims that President Trump’s behavior is unprecedented emerged. These claims and the clear despise President Trump has for the media made me wonder about past presidents’ relationships with the press corps that covered them. What I found both erases the notion that President Trump’s behavior is unprecedented while also revealing there is something different about President Trump which makes him more dangerous to the freedom of the press. The entire experience of researching, analyzing, and reflecting on this topic, which took me all the way through the history of the United States, has been the most challenging, thought-provoking, and rewarding piece of writing I have taken on.

I have grown substantially as a writer this semester. The focus Writing 220 places on the process of writing was its greatest gift to me. My largest challenge as a writer has always been getting the ideas in my mind onto the page. Writing 220 forced me to dissect the way I went about writing something, breaking up each experiment into sections. Reflection was also another aspect of this class which allowed me to grow as a writer. Reflecting became synonymous with learning in this class for me. Each experiment pushed me in unique ways and reflecting on each one made me more prepared for the next one. I will carry this habit of reflecting in my future writing.

As you go about reading my final project I ask you to consider the driving question behind it: who determines the truth and what forces impact our understanding of it? As I dissect, that question has only become more muddled over time, but it’s worth struggling over. The relationship between the president and the press has had concrete consequences on the lives of Americans for centuries, and it will continue to impact us and adapt with changing technologies in our lifetimes. I hope you reflect on and struggle with the concepts I flesh out as much as I did. Enjoy.

Running in Heels

Ever since high school, I have dreamt about writing my own column in a highly circulated fashion magazine like Glamour, Marie Claire or even Cosmopolitan. My column, however, would differ from the classic “best winter accessories of the year” and “how to decode flirtatious text messages.” In my ideal writing venue, I will discuss about politics. As a political science major and political junkie, it is my self-proclaimed duty to inform fellow women like myself about current policy issues that are affecting our day to day lives. I will interview female politicians and candidates about struggles they face being powerful women. These could be about a wide variety of topics including balancing work and their personal life, sexist questions reporters ask them or differences they’ve picked up on how their colleagues treat them compared to males.

The “Running in Heels” is a play on words and refers to running for a political office. This column would be a more detailed version of The Skimm, a daily e-mail sent to millennial women informing them of the day’s top stories. I admire women in office and would want to give them publicity and help them regardless of their political views.

Numbers Never Lie*

In terms of news from the worlds of sports and economics, nobody does it quite like FiveThirtyEight. It was this past Winter Semester where I learned of FiveThirtyEight.com in my ECON 195 class here at Michigan, and I continue to get a kick out of the incredible varieties of content the site publishes for a given reader. FiveThirtyEight is primarily known for being an ESPN-run blog dedicated to connecting complicated statistical data to the ever-changing worlds of American politics and sports, but in my opinion the site provides so much more than that. For example, I admire the thought-provoking topics and the unpredictable questions the site takes on, such as when editor-in-chief Nate Silver “analyzed 6 million flights to figure out which airports, airlines and routes are most likely to get you there on time and which ones will leave you waiting” or other topics, such as a personal favorite of mine, regarding the number of available jobs relating to the American poverty level which can be found here: http://53eig.ht/1Fk7aH9. The target audience of FiveThirtyEight, in my experience with the blog, would extend anywhere from an individual who enjoys not just your ordinary political, economic, life, sports, and life blog articles, but extensions of complex and often overlooked facets of our society that many of us had never before considered. I would certainly give anyone interested in learning more about statistical models and theoretical data the green light to check out FiveThirtyEight. You will discover answers to questions you never knew existed, and questions to answers you had once thought were the true norm. Because, after all, numbers never lie*

Five-Thirty-Eight

The Latest from Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight can be found here:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-online-dating-was-like-in-the-1960s/

It’s Tough to Hit a Homerun if You Never Step Up to Bat

While researching sources for my second project, an exploration of the gender gap in the United States political landscape, I came across an intriguing article that had the following to say about women in politics:

While ongoing analysis of political wins show that female candidates are just as likely to win their races as men, they’re still much less likely to initiate a run. The Women’s Campaign Forum, a non-partisan nonprofit established to encourage more women to run for office, estimates that 50 percent fewer women than men consider running for office.

In the article, Why So Few Women in Politics? Ask Sandra Fluke., author Robin Marty continues to explain that a large reason why females are not equally represented in Congress is not because they cannot get elected – it’s because they do not run for election in the first place. After years of unequal representation, women feel as though they are not qualified, educated, or experienced enough to even consider running for public office.

Upon reading this article, the direction of my research took a bit of a turn. The original scope of my project was a bit broad; I intended to focus on female portrayal in Congress and explore why female candidates are not elected at the same rate as their male colleagues. Now that I realize this statement is not true, I will now focus on why the female population, as a whole, feels as though it should not and cannot run for public office.

This is an important message for women to hear because there are fewer examples of strong female players in politics than there of strong men. Furthermore, many of the women who make powerful moves are either not discussed by the media or criticized for their wardrobe choices (and what do men even know about fashion anyways? UGH). The goal for my article is to show women everywhere that they are just as capable as men of holding public office, the United States needs female voices in Congress, and women should consider running in more political elections. Because let me tell you, I think most of the women I know could do a pretty amazing job.

We need more victory pictures like this one. You go, Nancy Pelosi!
We need more victory pictures like this one. You go, Nancy Pelosi!

Re-purposing woes

For my repurposing project I think I am going to take an academic analysis on the recession that I did for a Political Science class, and re-purpose it into a satirical piece for the New Yorker. I like the idea of making it a kind of open letter from “Mr. Bigg Banks” or “Ms. Lucy Lender” (or something along those lines) to the American people. I have two concerns about this, however. The first is that I am not a POLSCI major; this re-purposing would be a big challenge because it would involve a lot of research just to re-acquaint myself with the issues at stake.  Here, I was reminded about what Shelley said in class about picking something that may be a challenge and seeing how we can meet the challenge. However, I hope I am able to live with the piece for the rest of the semester.

My second concern is that my re-purposing will have a fairly evident political bias. I am hoping to use my e-portfolio as a showcase of my college writing to show potential employers, so do you think that having a politically charged piece on the website will be bad? What if the employer disagrees with my stance?