So, What’s the State of the Union?


“Let’s make this a year of action,” President Barack Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address. What issues was he talking about, and what actions can the government take? (New York Times)

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Discussion Ideas

  • Compare the key points listed by the New York Times, a leading American news service, with those listed by the BBC, a leading foreign news service. What are the similarities and differences? Why do you think American and British journalists would have different priorities? Would another foreign news service have another perspective?
    • Similarities: Both journalists list economic issues as some of Obama’s top issues. While the NYT frames those issues as minimum age and retirement savings, the BBC frames the economy in terms of income inequality, wages (basically, minimum wage), and health care.
    • Differences: The BBC list includes foreign-policy issues, such as the U.S. relationship with Iran and the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    • Different Priorities: American audiences may be more focused on domestic issues that may have a direct impact on their daily lives. In fact, the NYT article only focuses on issues that could have “action” this year. The BBC and other foreign news services may take a longer view, and focus on how American policy impacts them and their relationship with the U.S.
    • Another Perspective: Every news service, foreign and domestic, will have a different perspective! A radical departure from both American and British sources might come from a nation with which the U.S. has strained relations, such as North Korea or Iran.

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