Writing@CSU Activities Bank

New York Times Activities for Portfolio 3

Contributed by Sue Doe


Goals: To use the New York Times in support of the goals of COCC150, and to integrate the Times throughout the course


In this portfolio students are constructing their own arguments. They are reading the Editorial and Op-Ed pages in particular and are also looking at the ways that graphics and visuals are used in the newspaper. Simultaneously, they are learning about the visual argumentative options available to them.  For this portfolio, students should:

1)     Take issue with the issues

2)     Stake a claim and carve some new ground

3)     Study the ways that arguments are constructed, both rhetorically and visually

The newspaper can be used to demonstrate any of these aspects of argument. Standard forms of written argument abound in the Editorial and Op-Ed pages but in addition, students might keep their eyes open for graphics, photos, etc. that they find especially convincing/persuasive. The question with photographs and other visual arguments, of course, is whether an audience can agree on what it's arguing.  For instance, prior to the war with Iraq, the Times published a photograph of a grass hut and canoeing tribe that just a few years ago lived in the swampy estuary waters at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers' entrance into the Persian Gulf—and property of Iraq--but was eradicated by Saddam Hussein's regime.  The photo caption explained that this indigenous culture is gone—all its members either dead or assimilated, as the water was drained from the swamp to provide water inland. The photograph shows an idyllic scene of this peaceful culture before its demise.  What, students might discuss, was this photograph arguing—published, as it was, just weeks before the war with Iraq began.


For Portfolio 3, in addition to continuing to collect clips, students might be encouraged to lead discussions on various argumentative issues.