public policy news

For this assignment I want you to peek deep into a world of something you might not be familiar with to see what people care about or what challenges they face; what efforts are made to address those challenges individually, at the grassroots level or via governmental intervention. Things I’d like you to think about include: If government is involved, what branch of government can best address this issue? What level of government (federal, state, or local)? What should we do when the policies that government has implemented don’t work or have negative unintended consequences? Or when government is simply ignoring a problem? Or when we wish government should ignore a problem? In short: I want you to try to connect real world problems with all of the facets of government you’ve learned about this semester.

In order to do this, I want you to watch an in-depth news feature/documentary that focuses on a domestic public policy topic! You can either choose from those recommended below OR you can find your own. If you want to find your own, please send me an email with the documentary you’d like to watch and I will let you know whether you have my go ahead. DO NOT watch something that is not on this list without getting approval ahead of time. Note: some of the material is difficult to watch.

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After you watch the story, you need to complete the questions below and submit. Please choose a documentary that you have NOT seen before.

 

CHOICES:

Longer length – more like a documentary (1 hour +)

The Future of Work: A VICE News Special Report

Left Behind America (Intimate stories of one Rust Belt city’s struggle to recover in the post-recession economy. FRONTLINE and ProPublica report on the economic and social forces shaping Dayton, Ohio, a once-booming city where nearly 35 percent of people now live in poverty.): https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/left-behind-america/

Policing the Police (How do you change a troubled police department?): https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/policing-the-police/

Medium length (20-30 minutes)

There’s a Mental Health Crisis Among Florida’s Kids | VICE News Tonight Special

The Crystal Meth Epidemic Plaguing Fresno

Inside America's For-Profit Bail System

Toxic Waste in the US: Coal Ash (Full Length)

Shorter length – (10-20 minutes)

Inside Juvenile Detention

The Border Patrol's Corruption Problem

Brain Hacking

 

WORKSHEET: Use as much space as you need to thoroughly answer each question.

Title and creator (Vice, Frontline, 60 minutes, etc) of documentary
Why did you choose the news story that you did?
Identify a 3-5 things that you learned and/or found interesting from watching this news story.
Identify 3-5 key players in this public policy issue. These could be average Americans, members of government (the President, Congress, Supreme Court, local government), businesses, consumers, local governments, etc. For each player you identify, give a brief explanation of your choice (explain their role, their goal(s) and how the goals of each player you identified differ (this may be a good place to identify different perspectives on the issue or natural political conflict)?
What role do you think government should or could government play with regard to the topic of your documentary?
Do you think that the government is not paying enough attention or is paying too much attention (or somewhere in between) to the topic of the documentary. You may need to do some research to answer this. Make sure to explain your answer.
Is this an issue that is best addressed by government? Whether yes or no, explain your answer.
Identify at least two ways in which Americans who care about this topic or issue could influence government to take action around it in some way.
Finally, write a 1-paragraph review of what you watched. Things to think about: Do you think the coverage of this story was slanted or framed in a particular way? Why or why not? Is this documentary/show something you’d recommend? Why or Why not?

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