Giving Us Fake Primary Sources
Pay attention to the required length of these assignments. These assignments consist of reading a newspaper article about a designated region of the world–specific for each assignment–and writing an essay about it.
Primary sources are documents or other materials such as photographs, art work, coins, tapestries, etc. produced at the time period under consideration. Refer back to the primary sources discussion at the beginning of the course. You are to find a substantive newspaper article [most newspapers are available online–it must be from a newspaper, not a website only or cablenews organization.] about the region designated for that assignment. If the article you choose is too short you will have trouble doing the assignment. Any good newspaper article is based on sources, which historians would designate as primary sources. Primary sources are the building blocks of history. You can think of them like eyewitness accounts or physical evidence produced at the time of an incident or crime being considered in a courtroom proceeding or trial. Without evidence a jury couldn’t make a fair decision in a case. In the same way, without primary sources, history cannot be written–and good newspaper articles cannot be written. So part of this assignment is asking you to decide if the reporter writing the article you select has actually used good primary sources. Does he or she have real evidence and enough of it to write the article? Does the reporter have a particular viewpoint or bias? Could you imagine the article being used as a primary source by a historian in the future for writing history about this time period? How useful would the document be and does it have any weaknesses or drawbacks as a piece of evidence? What else might a historian need, besides the article you are analyzing, to give a more complete or balanced discussion of the topic?
Your assignments will be graded on:
Formatting: 1 inch margins; your name, course number & assignment number [first, second or third] (2 points) on top of first page. No other information is needed for a heading, and no repeat headers allowed. Following this formatting, cite the author(s) of the article, the title of the article, the name of the newspaper in which it appears [the title of the newspaper should be underlined] and the date of its publication.
Spelling, grammar, word choie (10 points); Do not use “I” or “you” in these papers—write in the third person, as your textbook does.
Introductory and closing paragraphs (8 points); Introduce to your reader the article and its author. In your closing paragraph, sum up what you have presented in the body of the paper. If you submit an essay of one long paragraph, you obviously cannot receive points for these two required paragraphs–introduction and closing.
Length at least 500 words; following directions–region of article is correct for the assignment (2 points)
Summarize the article. (8 points)
Identify any questions you may have that are not answered in the article. If you have none, it would mean that it is a perfect article. (5 points)
Indicate what primary source evidence the author uses to support his/her conclusions Are you convinced by the sources the author is using? Consider the questions in the introduction above. By paying attention to this we can become better able to analyze whether or not something is giving us “fake news.”(15 points)