2 policy memos must know how to write a policy memo

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Policy Memo 1: Media Analysis


For this assignment, you will conduct a media analysis of a policy issue of your choice using the web sites and other tools assigned for our unit on Media Literacy (I will share these w you). You will write a memo to your client about the media coverage of your issue. You will draw upon what you have learned about media literacy and about policy memos.

Instructions:

Select a client and a role for yourself. You might be a policy specialist for a member of Congress or the NJ State Legislature, a researcher for a think-tank, a member of the White House staff or a policy researcher for an interest group. You might work for a university research center. You can create a fictional place of employment, but your client should be a real person.

Purpose: Write a memo to your client briefing them on how various media sources discuss the policy issue. The memo should include a synopsis of the credible facts you have learned, and a synopsis of what public officials and/or writers and/or news outlets get wrong or present in a misleading way. This will help the client to assess further information that comes his or her way as s/he/they work on the issue.

Use the memo format we have discussed in class, with header and subsections that make sense for the memo’s purpose. The text will be about 3 pages long (single-spaced, 1-inch margins, left justified text, 11 or 12 point font). The memo should also include in-text citations and a reference list.

Format: The memo should follow a standard memo format. Consult the reading material on memos.

Memo Contents

Don’t forget to begin the memo with the proper header, and a short introduction that sets out the purpose and contents of the memo.

The memo should have sections on each of the following topics. These are not meant to be the actual subheadings (you should write your own), but the sections should be organized as follows:

A. Fake News and Credible News

Use the media analysis resources from class to compare and contrast 2-3 news articles about your issue that are fact-based vs. fiction-based. Explain how you can tell the difference. Be sure to provide information about the articles – where they were published, when, and who wrote them. Full reference can be provided at the end of the memo in a reference list.

B. Fact Checking

Use the media analysis resources from class to compare and contrast what 2-3 public figures have written or said about your issue. Explain which stay closer to the facts and which fall short. Be sure to provide information about the tools you used and where the remarks were published. Full reference should be provided at the end of the memo in a reference list.

C. Media Bias

Use the media analysis resources from class to compare and contrast 2-3 news articles about your issue that emerge from different political perspectives. What are some key differences in what these articles cover and how they discuss the issue? Be sure to provide information about the articles – where they were published, when, and who wrote them. Full reference can be provided at the end of the memo in a reference list.

D. Recommendation

Given what you have found in your analysis, what do you recommend your client do to be sure s/he receives credible information about the issue as s/he develops plans to advocate for change. Are there certain aspects of the issue where there is more risk of fake news or misleading media bias? Are there any sources you’ve discovered that seem especially reliable for credible information?

E. Reference list of works cited



Policy Memo 2: Building a Coalition for Policy Change

In this memo, you will assume the role of a lobbyist for an interest group or a staff member for a Senator or U.S. House Representative active on your issue. You will develop a strategy for building a coalition in support of a specific policy change that you seek. Your memo will outline who you see as the key players to pursue for a coalition within Congress (or the State Legislature) and the Executive Branch.

You will identify these key participants, summarize their perspectives, and why you think they will lead on the issue. You will recommend what your boss should ask these leaders to do in order to navigate through Congress and the Executive Branch to bring about policy change. You should draw on assigned readings about policy stages, lobbying Congress, and the president, to guide your thinking about coalition-building, specific routes for change, and designing a strategy for change.

On Blackboard under Assignments, there is a link called YOUR LIBRARY with a section devoted to “The Players.” This and other resources on different parts of the site should be great sources of information for your memos. You will also use the media coverage and policy reports that you collected for the previous memo, and additional ones that you will find. Please take the time to look carefully through the resources on the Blackboard Your Library site. (I WILL PROVIDE WHATEVER YOU NEED)

Instructions:

Select the director of an interest group or a member of Congress to whom you will address the memo. You will identify yourself as a lobbyist or legislative staff member. The memo will

consist of three broad sections: Congress, Executive Branch, and a Recommendation section: Policy Strategy for Congress and the Executive Branch. The memo should include in-text citations and a reference list.

Use the memo format we have discussed in class, with header and subsections that make sense for the memo’s purpose. The text will be about 3 pages long (single-spaced, 1-inch margins, left justified text, 11 or 12 point font). The memo should also include in-text citations and a reference list, or footnotes.

Format: The memo should follow a standard memo format. Consult the reading material on memos.

Memo Contents

Don’t forget to begin the memo with the proper header, and a short introduction that sets out the purpose and contents of the memo. The introductory paragraph should also state the particular policy change you are pursuing. The memo will lay out a strategy – including building a coalition, developing arguments to persuade elected officials to join the coalition, and describing how you advise the coalition to proceed.

Note that I will be looking for evidence that you are incorporating class lecture, discussion, and readings into your analysis – that is, you should use the concepts we discuss and read about to analyze your case.

I. Congress

As we discussed in class, policy analysts need to know the players and know the committees. Here, you will describe and discuss which individual members and which committees you advise your boss to approach in order to build a coalition in favor of the change you seek. Explain why these are the best bets. For individual members, how do constituents, policy interests, party identification and ideology (left, center or right) and leadership positions line up well with your goals. For committees, why do these particular House and Senate committees or subcommittees seem like the right fit? What are the arguments you recommend using to persuade these officials to join you? Finally, identify two opponents, explaining why you anticipate their opposition.

II. The Executive Branch

Discuss the president (or governor), as well as the leaders or division heads of the executive offices or agencies with jurisdiction over your issue (Cabinet members, other agency heads, etc.). What are the president’s views on your issue or related issues? What about his/her background, past experiences, partisan identification, ideology (left/center/right) makes the president likely or unlikely to support your goals? Which cabinet agencies and other agencies are likely places to pursue change? Who leads them, and why are these the best fit for building support? What are the arguments you recommend using to persuade these officials to join you? It’s possible that you will find that the executive branch is not a likely place to receive support. If that is the case, you should explain why you anticipate that the relevant leaders will be supportive or not supportive.

III. Recommending a Strategy for Change

Given the coalition members you identify above, and the opponents you identified, what is the best strategy to pursue change? Do the members have enough power within their institutions to be able to achieve legislative change or executive-branch change? If so, how would you recommend your boss start? (Our class readings provide some possibilities both for legislature and executive.) If not, then what might be done? Are there small steps to take which, over time, might build more support? Should your boss work for electoral change instead? Pursue pilot programs or studies? Maybe you can recommend a problem-definition or agenda-setting action to take? Or an evaluation action?


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