Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Paper Proposal Example 2

Research Paper Proposal
September 23, 2008

Goal: to assess and compare the portrayal of immigration and immigrants in works of literary journalism by three different authors.  I will then compare the results of these evaluations with ‘traditional’ journalism coverage of immigration and immigrants, to assess the effectiveness of these two journalism styles in covering such a nuanced and complex issue in American society.

I may rely on research about the topic of immigration itself to aid in my evaluations of the coverage in both types of journalism.

Potential criteria for examining journalism (both traditional and literary) on immigrants and immigration:

*What topics are well covered? What topics don’t seem to receive much coverage? Topics include, but are not limited to: economic issues, education experiences for immigrants, healthcare experiences, cultural adaptation, discrimination, and availability of housing.

*How are immigrants portrayed? Are they portrayed as hard working or lazy? Threats to American society, or members who want to contribute? Intelligent or unintelligent? 

While the research paper may not be able to address all of the questions raised above, it will certainly speak to some.


Examples of literary journalism:
Evans, C. (2007, November 4). America’s new main street; a melting pot stirred by
opportunity. The Palm Beach Post, 1A. Retrieved June 6, 2008, from LexisNexis Academic.
This article describes the growing diversity of a small South Florida town and the experiences of teachers and students in a public elementary school, where students speaking as many as four different languages interact together in the classroom.  The article also describes some of the students’ home lives and journeys to the United States.

Hull, A. (2002, December 11).  Two jobs and a sense of hope: A young man from Mali
            discovers a tough life on a time clock.  The Washington Post, A1. Retrieved
            September 18, 2008 from LexisNexis Academic.

Hull, A. (2002, December 10).  The weight of a family’s hopes: Parents’ dream leaves
            little room for being average American teen.  The Washington Post, A1. Retrieved
            September 18, 2008 from LexisNexis Academic.

Hull, A. (2002, December 9).  Dreaming against the odds; ‘Today I feel like I want
            to do something with my life.’  The Washington Post, A1. Retrieved
            September 18, 2008 from LexisNexis Academic.

Hull, A. (2002, December 8).  Old South goes with the wind; An entrepreneur and his
workers reflect regions’ racial transformation.  The Washington Post, A1. Retrieved September 18, 2008 from LexisNexis Academic.

In this series, Hull explores the lives, struggles and dreams of immigrants through four different stories.  Their tales depict the racial issues inherent in the American immigration debate, the extent to which Americans depend on immigrants to keep their everyday worlds running smoothly and the tensions born of immigrants’ high hopes for their lives in America.  The exploration of these and other aspects of the American immigration discussion from numerous perspectives will leave much to analyze for this paper.

Nazario, S. (2003, Sept. 29-Oct. 2).  Enrique’s Journey – Chapters One-Six. Los
Angeles Times.  Retrieved September 18, 2008 from,Feature+Writing

This Pullitzer Prize winning series tells the tale of a young boy who sets off from his native Honduras to find his mother, who has gone to live in America.  This series highlights some of the heart-wrenching dilemmas which drive people to make the journey to America and struggle to make better lives.  This piece describes these dilemmas from varying perspectives, including those of a child and of an adult.

Research and commentary on literary journalism:

Hartsock, J.C. (2000). A History of American Literary Journalism. Amherst: University
            of Massachusetts Press.

This book explains the beginnings and progress of literary journalism.  I am specifically interested in chapter 1, titled “Locating the Emergence of Modern Narrative Literary Journalism,” which contains information about literary journalism’s interest in social issues.  I will apply this to immigration.

Webb, J. (1974). Historical Perspective on the New Journalism. Journalism History, 1(2),
            38-42, 60.

Webb’s article, written when he was a professor at the University of California, Northridge, describes how literary journalism’s romantic foundations drive the form’s focus on the individual, including individual experiences and feelings.  This perspective can be used to argue that immigration to and immigrants in America are perfect topics for literary journalism.

Research and commentary on immigration:

Portes, A. and Rumbaut, R.G., (2006). Immigrant America: a Portrait. Berkeley:
            University of California Press.

This book uses data from a variety of sources, including the US census, to describe the ins and outs of everyday life for immigrants in America.  Topics include: education, religion, the jobs immigrants hold, where they choose to live in the U.S., mental health, the effects of immigration on the immigrants’ children, race relations, and more. The authors are both sociology professors and leaders at immigration study centers.

The first chapter of this book, titled “Nine Stories,” relays short, true vignettes about the experiences of immigrants to the United States in a variety of life situations.  One describes a couple from Cuba who succeeds in the business world because of their connections in Latin America (pp.1-2).  Another relates the tale of a young Korean family’s daily grind to make their living in America, and their daughter’s success in the world of academics (pp.2-3).  Though short, these tales might be considered literary journalism.  However, they are not the focal pieces of literary journalism examined in this paper. 

 Research and commentary on journalism coverage of immigration issues:

Corrigan, D. (2008). Immigration Backlash Targets Mexicans.  St. Louis Journalism
            Review, January 2008, 8-9.

Corrigan, a newspaper editor and communications professor at Webster University, writes in this article about the tone and influence of news coverage on immigration in the state of Missouri.  He writes that after the airing or publication of major immigration stories, local Hispanic residents experienced threats, discrimination and even violence (pp.8-9).  Corrigan offers some commentary on how news organizations can tweak their coverage to alleviate maltreatment of Hispanic people.

McGowan, W. (2001). Coloring the NewsSan Francisco: Encounter Books.

This book, written by a freelance journalist, describes what he views as the damage being done to American journalism by the quest to be politically correct.  On the topic of immigration, McGowan seems to argue that mainstream organizations are all too happy to celebrate the cause of immigrants in America, but do not pay enough attention to the practical implications for and problems in society associated with the influx of so many new people (pp.179-182).

Shah, H. and Thornton, M.C. (2004). Newspaper Coverage of Interethnic Conflict:
Competing Visions of AmericaThousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Written by two professors from the University of Wisconsin (one specializes in journalism and Asian-American studies, the other in Asian-American studies , Afro-American studies and sociology), this book examines how mainstream and ethnic newspapers handle racial issues in America and their local communities.  The book points out the shortcomings of the mainstream newspapers and highlights the unique contributions of the ethnic newspapers. This information supports the idea that regular journalism is not adequately doing its job of covering these kinds of topics, and that literary journalism can more effectively fill in the gaps.  

Commission on Freedom of the Press, The. (1947). A Free and Responsible Press.
            Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

This book describes the press’ obligation to serve the public by covering issues thoroughly and as fairly as possible.  I will use this information to support the need for better coverage of immigration issues.

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