Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Man to Set Foot on the Moon

This story indubitably deserved its third-rank position in the top one-hundred  20th century news stories. This achievement of the United States—more exclusively Neil Armstrong—galvanized the technology revolution and the methods which we used this technology as a catalyst for our own exploration of frontiers. Early quests of Earth’s uninhibited lands and scientific inquisition of human thought mirrored that of Apollo 11’s journey in 1969, yet it proved to be most significant because it contained both the physical and scientific aspects—as well as the technological. In 1969, published media and television media made this technology available to millions of United States citizens. We were not only effected by the doors that were opened by technology, but more importantly by the development of our capabilities as a country that the media brought to light.

            In “A Fateful Step Into A Vast Unknown” (New York Times), journalist Walter Sullivan took a poignant journalistic route to demonstrate that media was the primary support for the optimism of American citizens during Apollo 11’s quest to the moon. The sensationalism of the media and the citizens “piggy-backed” each other by the Sullivan’s capture of a sanguine tone in his article. He reports, “…we cannot say to what extent it is the start of a new era because we cannot estimate what man’s ultimate capabilities will be” to leave the reader with an open end of possibilities for the future. He proceeded to discuss the potential journey to Jupiter and Mars if the trip to the moon was established as a success. Yet in retrospect, we know that technology remains too rudimentary to permit further space exploration.

The antique American notion of Manifest Destiny was attributed to this sensationalism held within the citizens and media. Sullivan referred to Armstrong’s expedition as “man’s destiny”, yet he stated that this act is most momentous because centuries of perspective were not needed to recognize its impact since media supplied the means for all citizens to behold the event. The trip to the moon heightened nationalism, thus the popularity in the belief of Manifest Destiny followed in its footsteps.

            In the Los Angeles Times article, “Doctors Wary: Moon Walker’s First Steps Full of Danger”, Harry Nelson attempted to raise concerns amongst the public just a few days before Armstrong was scheduled to set foot on the moon. He accounted for all the potential malfunctions with the astronaut’s gear or reaction to the foreign environment. For example, he posed a suspicious question, “Will one-sixth G be enough to stimulate in a normal way the body’s balance mechanism in the inner ear, thus allowing the astronauts to stand and walk without loosing balance?”However,  Nelson held up the credibility of his apprehensions by using a professional source from NASA, Dr. Charles A. Berry.

            This article is unique in comparison to sensationalist articles because it includes American citizens in the technicalities of the project, by elaborating details of particular parts of the spacecraft and their functions. This complex information was typically unattainable by most citizens, but it was made accessible by the media. Consequently, nationalism triumphed over Nelson’s dubious tone.




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