Saturday, May 30, 2009

More PhD Chapter Writing Issues

I now have almost 16,000 words of notes and quotes typed up for my latest chapter about Non-Governmental Actors in US Foreign Policy-Making Process. The chapter’s only meant to be 10,000 words long, but there’s just so much information, so many good quotations that I’d like to use to build the chapter, that I find myself in a quandary about writing.

The media sections of the chapter, most of all, are causing problems. I’ve read and noted literally hundreds of articles from TIME, Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Atlantic, Harper’s, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times to find out how they report on China. Sure, I’ve been able to spot the trends: for The Weekly Standard, for example, China is a particularly favourite whipping-boy, while Wall Street Journal reports almost exclusively on business issues, in a rather bland or positive manner. But there are so many good quotes, I’m having difficulty cutting them down.

The structure of the chapter’s also causing problems. All the actors I’m looking at – special interests, business, academics, media – are interconnected, each feeding and reinforcing the other. In many ways, without one, everything would fall apart. Do I start with the media, and work backwards? Or do I start with business, academics and special interests, discuss their opinions, preferences and positions, followed by how the media then conveys their messages and reports on their actions, policies, and positions? Each has its pluses, but also negatives.

It sounds strange to be worrying about this so much, but I can’t start writing before I sort this out. Bloody infuriating.

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