AP Research: intro to my project!

Mar 04, 2019

Recently, there’s been a huge amount of attention devoted to North Korea and US relations – rightly so, as the foreign policy that the United States has used for so long in regards to North Korea is rapidly changing. Although “no sitting president had met a North Korean leader,” Donald Trump broke that precedent in 2018. Furthermore, he decided to meet Kim Jong-Un after both sent series of tweets deliberately antagonizing the other (see below for an example).

Image result for tweets donald trump north korea

This is particularly interesting due to the trend of echo chambers, where people interact with media they agree with to reaffirm their own view and strengthen their convictions. This is especially prevalent in media about North Korea, where stereotypes can cloud cloud reporting and can create inaccuracies.

Andray Abrahamian, who holds a PhD in US-North Korea relations and is a Koret Fellow at Stanford University, writes about these stereotypes by explaining that headlines have grown more and more likely to advocate sensationalist views. He analyzes the rhetoric of several articles to show how the media selectively cherry-picks details in order to develop an atmosphere of fear. For example, from the Newsweek article Abrahamian references, the headline is “North Korea threatens to strike the US with a powerful nuclear hammer.” However, Abrahamian explains how the “if/then” clause was omitted, which explains that the North Korean diplomat only said that they would strike the US with a nuclear hammer if the United States had struck them first. He explains that the problem with this inaccurate or misleading reporting is that this ramps up conflict, making it difficult to “ease tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.”

An article published by Al Jazeera corroborates this. Quoting Haeryun Kang, the lead editor of the Korea Exposé, they argue that there is a double standard for North Korea and US threats as North Korea is seen as an “axis of evil” while the US is seen as “the paradigm of democracy and freedom and rationality.” They explain that the problem with this caricaturization is that, over time, there is an image that is formed that “these [the North Koreans] are people that are fundamentally irrational and strange… barely human,” showing how media perceptions can contribute to an orientalist divide.

Although past research has shown that these stereotypes exist, and have covered the inaccuracies of media reporting extensively, there is very little scholarship surrounding what the impact of these stereotypes are. My research project attempts to fill in this gap. Thus, my research attempts to answer the question: “How do stereotypes in the media affect Americans’ views towards US foreign policy on North Korea?” I want to understand the impact of echo chambers and stereotypes in the media, and how this effects people’s views, especially towards foreign policy ideas.

My methodology has been consolidated from earlier ideas in order to generate more statistically significant data (although I’ll explain that in later blog posts).

One Reply to “AP Research: intro to my project!”

  1. Jennifer Z. says:

    Hey Vibha, I think what you are looking into is REALLY interesting! I’m excited about your results! I know you had some trouble deciding exactly how you were going to execute your project, but I think your finalized idea is really great!

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