Writing Project 2: Informing the Public

First Draft Due: Thursday, March 8
Final Draft Due: Tuesday, March 20

Page length: 5-6 pages


In our first sequence, we considered the role of narrative and personal experience as modes for demonstrating large scale public issues. In this second sequence we will continue investigating how to present public problems using a different genre: long-form journalism. Long-form articles can include elements of creative nonfiction or narrative styles of writing; however, they often ground the content of the piece in research. Your task for this unit’s major project is to choose a public problem, research the issue and its debates, and then construct an informative long-form journalism piece that answers the following question: Why and how did this issue become a public problem? Who or what are complicit in the issue? We will discuss the conventions of long-form journalism in class and look at several examples of this genre of writing throughout this sequence.


  • To deepen an awareness of the multiple parties involved in a public problem.
  • Practice researching an issue and identifying all actors complicit in the issue.
  • Organize the information in a coherent way.
  • Evaluate evidence and make decisions about how best to present it.
  • Demonstrate a rhetorical awareness of the long-form genre.


You have choice over the issue you want to research and write about. You can also continue thinking about the public problem you addressed in the first sequence. Past projects have covered issues such as clean lakes, recycling, antibacterial soap, mental health, police brutality, bathroom laws, access to public health, and public education, to name a few. Consider an issue that you’re personally invested in understanding more deeply.

Portfolio and Writer’s Memo:
You will complete the project in the form of a well-organized portfolio, which will include:

  • A writer’s memo
  • All planning, brainstorming, and research notes or worksheets (clipped together)
  • All early drafts of your project (clipped together)
  • All feedback you received, from both me and your peers
  • The final polished draft of your project.

The Writer’s Memo serves as a cover letter to your project and should be no more than one page in length. You should describe your purpose and strategy in the writing of this project, and you should ask any questions about the writing that you may have yourself. Tell me what you learned. Tell me what was difficult. Tell me what aspects of the project you want me to look at specifically. This is your opportunity to provide some context for the writing but also a chance to ask your reader (me) directly about the effectiveness of this piece. In this specific Writer’s Memo, discuss how your experience responding to this assignment varied from your experience with narrative writing during first sequence.

Successful projects will:

  • Research the nature of your public problem and offer readers a better understanding of this issue.
  • Effectively use sources (both scholarly and popular) that approach the issue from multiple perspectives.
  • Clearly organize your essay so that readers can engage with your issue.
  • Remain well written and free from grammatical errors.