Eight criteria for assessing the value of international news stories

This course has focused on eight criteria for assessing the value of international news stories. But why are these criteria “valuable’’? Why should we care whether a particular story illustrates excellence in, say, writing? Why does that matter?

In the final project, you will explore three of these criteria and apply them to a piece of journalism: The Displaced, a series by The New York Times. In the process, you will explain not only whether the story achieves a level of excellence in international reporting, but how it does so.

Here are the three criteria:

Sourcing: Are the sources appropriate, knowledgeable and compelling? Why? Were the sources to difficult to get?
Big Picture: Why is this story important and why does it matter to the reader? Why should the reader care? Does the story tell us something about the world beyond the confines of the situation described in the story?
Quality of writing: Are the descriptions vivid? Is the story structured to make the most of the argument and the narrative? Is the writer’s voice authoritative, strong, informed and personable? Is the tone appropriate to the story?
Please explain why each one has journalistic value. Then use them to assess the “excellence’’ of a significant piece of international journalism.

In Part 1 (600 words), you will choose the above criteria and explain in 200 words for each one why this criteria is appropriate, answering two questions.

What does excellence in this category mean? How do you define it? (5 pts)
How does excellence in this category serve the goals of journalism and the needs of the reader? (5 pts)
In Part 2 (1200 words), you will apply each criteria to the series of stories attached. For each criteria, discuss in 400 words how the series meets the standards you set out in Part 1. (Total 18 pts)

Part 3: Sum up in 200 words if and how the series meets the goals of journalism and the needs of the reader. (2 pts)

Some general advice: yes, you will express opinions, but your opinions must be based on evidence in the text. Don’t lose points by discussing your friends and family, going off on tangents, or filling your work with platitudes or lengthy quotes from the text. There is no need to waste words with lavish praise of the work.

Attached are PDFs of the stories. Please read all of them, the Introduction and three main stories. YOUR FINAL MUST SHOW EVIDENCE OF YOUR HAVING READ THE ENTIRE SERIES, so be sure to cite examples from all parts of the series. Your grade will suffer if, for instance, you only cite examples from the introduction. For the full treatment, including photos and other components, have a look at the website:


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