What have I written? Why does it matter? — Ethan

It’s the end of the semester, and I have 47 pages of polished writing. What have I shown?

I believe I’ve given an example of a mutually positive relationship between the U.S. government and a mainstream print media outlet, due to which the public reaction to a foreign policy event was to some degree determined by the coverage given by the print media outlet. I have demonstrated the connection between the foreign policy aims of American foreign policy leaders during and after the Six-Days’ War and those advocated and legitimized by the print coverage of the War by the New York Times. Further, I have explicated the symbiotic relationship between sources of information thought to be authoritative and credible, and the disseminators of that information, in order to substantiate the logical basis for that relationship in this specific instance of foreign policy.

In short, I have demonstrated that some molding of public opinion with respect to foreign policy events in the world and the United States’ reaction to them is possible, given circumstances that favor an informational advantage to foreign policy leaders. These include a short “news cycle” for the foreign policy event (one month of coverage in the midst of the larger buildup to the Vietnam War), an event that is simple to explain using existing rhetoric and familiar types information (the dichotomous Cold War mindset particularly defines the Six-Days’ War), and an overall lack of immediate personal connection from the American public to the foreign policy event itself (no boots on the ground).

Given this conclusion, what readers can take away from this study is that a public that is informed from more sources than daily newspapers or nightly news shows is more capable of holding informed, nuanced opinions about the foreign policy events affecting them. They have a louder collective voice in support of or in opposition to the foreign policy leaders’ preferred reactions to those events, and they ultimately have more influence over how their country interacts with others. This in turn can lead to a better-functioning democratic society.

What now? My next steps are to work with my mentor, T. Olga, in order to secure publishing opportunities in academic journals in the near future. This is, again, uncharted territory for me, and I have little idea what to expect. I can only hope for the best. I also plan to leave a copy in the library for future students to read — it’s a resource I myself would have wanted to have had. For now, though, I am deeply satisfied with my work, and am holding open the possibility of continuing in this vein during the fall “semester” of my gap year.

It’s been a pleasure.



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