Media Writing: A news feature story on the state of the American Dream: Has your interviewee suffered from the effects of the recession? If so, how? Is he or she doing well today? Does he or she feel optimistic, pessimistic or uncertain about the future?

Media Writing Final Story and Exam
Your final exam will be a news feature story on the state of the American Dream.
No rough drafts are required nor will they be accepted. Exams submitted past the deadline time will be subject to a 10-point deduction.
No exams will be accepted later than the deadline day unless you have received written permission to submit after the due date.
Assignment Summary
The story of between 1,250 and 1,350 words will be based on seven to ten interviews and online research
Your central task is to combine interviews with research and take stock 0f the American Dream.
What your interviewees share with you—their experiences, their views and their hopes—will form your story’s core. The research will buttress the interviews. More on this later.
As we know, the American Dream holds great meaning in the United States. Historically, it has been a firmly held belief that separates the United States from the rest of the world.
Making the dream reality means a comfortable and secure middle class life, complete with home ownership, college educations paid for with family college funds, great vacations and a host of other perks. It has long been an article of faith that if you worked hard enough the American Dream could be yours.
For many Millennials and even younger Americans the dream has become less about money and material possessions, and more about achieving personal and professional goals.
Yet today there is disturbing evidence that realizing any version of the dream has become impossible or at minimum a daunting task.
This fundamental change is reflected in widespread voter disaffection. Fairly recently, the Pew Research Center released a study showing conclusively that the middle class is shrinking. Many other studies and journalistic reports have reached the same conclusion.
What made the American Dream become elusive for so many? There is little question that the 2008 recession was the basic cause. It marked the bleakest time in American recent history since the Great Depression.
The toll was reflected in the flood of mortgage defaults and the army of newly unemployed. Still others who managed to stay employed saw their household incomes plunge as spouses lost jobs. According to some analysts, the erosion of the American middle class began years before the recession.
Officially, the recession is over. Mortgage defaults are down, as are unemployment rates. However, few would argue that the economy is truly robust.
And so there is the accompanying conclusion that the American Dream is in danger of dying or, in fact, has already died.
A New York Times analysis (posted on the class site) finds that the American middle class is no longer the world’s wealthiest. Canada holds that coveted spot. The middle class in several other countries have seen

their incomes increase considerably since 2000, while here at home it has stagnated.
Nonetheless, the United States remains the number one destination for immigrants. The promise of the American Dream for many of them is very much alive and still realized.
We’ve posted suggested interview questions, but in brief your interviews should show if your interviewee believes he or she has achieved the American Dream and is enjoying its fruits today. Depending on your interviewee’s age, you will want to determine if he or she has hopes of reaching the dream.
Has your interviewee suffered from the effects of the recession? If so, how? Is he or she doing well today? Does he or she feel optimistic, pessimistic or uncertain about the future?
Your first step is to conduct a bit of online research. That will provide the foundation and background for the story
Your next step is to talk to a good cross-section of people about the American Dream.
This is not an academic paper, but rather a current portrait of how people feel about the American Dream and, by extension, how the country is doing and likely to fare. That will be your focus.
Don’t make this a story that dwells on what happened, but rather on the current situation and how people view the future.
Your reporting, however, should include research on the American Dream and the economy. Several news reports and studies have been posted. They provide excellent background and may even be cited, but
sparingly, please. Do not make the mistake of recycling the posted research into your story. You are expected to do your own digging.
Again, however, the story should most heavily rely on your interviews.
And for the most part you will talk to regular people. A good mix is quite important, so that you don’t end up with a skewed story.
Thus, take care to chat with professionals, blue-collar workers, students, old people, maybe even someone younger than you.
Your seven to ten interviews need not be long—approximately 15 minutes is a good estimate.
In writing, be mindful of not starting your story in classic academic fashion, with loads of data only to introduce your first interview subject after several paragraphs.
Keeping your focus on people is the most effective way to tell this story. Remember, you are trying to attract readers. Be sure to press for anecdotes. They will provide illustrative detail.
The most effective way to write this story is by organizing it thematically. Your research and interviews will unearth themes: The American Dream’s golden years, when anyone who worked hard would achieve it; the classic success stories; immigrants who came to these shores and struck it rich; those who left their homeland only to fall short of the dream; younger Americans with no realistic hope of acquiring the comfortable and secure middle class life their parents enjoyed.
These themes ought to dictate your story’s organization.
Don’t make the basic mistake of presenting interview summaries in random fashion. That would produce a terribly disorganized story with no narrative thread.
Not all interviews will be of equal quality, so don’t feel compelled to use all of them. You may want to use a small piece of an interview. High quality interviews, on the other hand, should figure prominently in your story.
You are likely to find this among the more interesting assignments of your academic career. The core question of whether the American Dream has seen better days is of undeniable historic importance.
This story will require a good deal of work, so please don’t wait until the very last minute to start on it.
Set aside at least three days to conduct research and another day- and-a-half to write and rewrite. The story’s quality will to a large extent depend on the quality of the interviews. Hurried interviews will be superficial. The same is true of research.
Don’t underestimate the time needed to produce quality work. If you do, your story and course grade will suffer.
**Important Requirement: At the end of your story, please list the names and contact information for all of your interviewees. Be sure before the interview that your interviewees are willing to provide this information. If they are not, then select someone else to interview. Failure to include this information will result in a ten-point deduction.
Consult with us as much as you would like on any aspect of this project. The goal is to ensure your final story is the very best it can be.
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