I've found that more and more often, my first-year comp students are writing introductions to research papers in this manner:
MONROVIA, Liberia -- Dozens of civilians have been killed as fighting continues between rebels and Liberian government forces for control of the West African country's second-largest city of Buchanan.
Rebels seeking to oust President Charles Taylor turned back a counter-attack by forces loyal to the government Tuesday -- one day after they seized the strategical port city, about 70 miles [112 kilometers] southeast of Monrovia.
"There are bodies all over the place. Dozens of people have been killed," one Buchanan resident told Reuters by telephone. "The wounded are on the streets and there is no way to treat them."
Another resident said the dead were being carted away in wheelbarrows when it was safe to retrieve them, Reuters reported.
Why is there so much conflict in Liberia? In this paper, I will attempt to answer this question, going back to the founding of Liberia by the American Colonization Society in 1817 as a home for emancipated slaves. I will trace the historical events that led up to the current civil war and argue that white imperialism and colonialism led to a corrupt government...
Why is that? (See, I did it too.) I haven't read any Bakhtin on dialogic imagination or dialogic novel or whichever it is, but will do so this fall in my genre theory class. I wonder what he would say. Discourse, especially "academic discourse," whatever that is, has always been a conversation, to use the Burkean metaphor, but it hasn't been common in my experience to see it presented in such an outright way. I never know quite how to respond to introductions like these. On the one hand, that's how composition is, and where it's going, but shouldn't they be able to write an introduction without relying on this kind of "prompt"? Sometimes it's easy to rely too heavily on this model of introduction--and sometimes it's better to be able to summarize and paraphrase events and arguments.
(Oh, here's the link to the Liberia story if anyone wants to see it. Here's another one that I used for fact-checking.)