Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Judith Lewin

Second Advisor

Hugh Jenkins




press, government, mainstream, contribute, foreign


In this thesis, I illuminate how mainstream American press has strayed from the freedom guaranteed it in the First Amendment. I map the road that has led to increasingly tighter government control of the press, primarily because this is the most easily quantified influence. Secondarily, I also reveal how capitalist economics and self-censorship contribute to the press’ less-than-ideal reporting. In tracing this trend, I compare mainstream press publications during periods of foreign conflict, beginning with the Vietnam War and ending with Iraq. Because foreign conflicts exaggerate the tensions between the media and the government as well as the public’s reliance upon both, my close readings of press reports readily reveal the influences constantly at work on journalists. My analysis of news stories focuses heavily on the New York Times’ front page content. I supplement my interpretations of those articles with sources from both media scholars and historians. While I conclude several things—such as that “objectivity” is unobtainable and that the press bears a greater responsibility to the people than it does to the government—I mainly hope to contribute to and inspire conversations concerning the difficulties facing mainstream press so that we might discover how to steer it back toward its originally intended path.