Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Manufacturing the News Through Filters

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Manufacturing the News Through Filters

"Another reason for the heavy weight given to official sources is that the mass media claim to be 'objective' dispensers of the news. Partly to maintain the image of objectivity, but also to protect themselves from criticisms of bias and the threat of libel suits, they need material that can be portrayed as presumptively accurate." (Chomsky, Herman p.19) If this is the case, then it is clear to me that the media is pure propaganda masked as objective news. They, the media, are reporting facts, but only the facts that official sources, such as government officials, wish to give them. Any information received from a government official will certainly be presumptuously accurate as it is straight from the source. An audience will be more likely to trust a report with a source in an official position.

A source that is not "official" faces the possibility of having no credibility because it does not have the protection that an official source has. If a scientist were to state that global warming is having an effect of the earth, the information would be considered more credible if the scientist was working directly for the government, as opposed a scientist performing independent experiments in a castle in Europe. Although the scientist in Europe may not have stake in the governments policies concerning global warming and is more objective than a scientist with ties to the government's policies, the medium reporting such information would be prone to "flak" from not only scientists working with the government and the government itself that may disagree with said scientist, but rival media outlets fighting for audience and profits. The medium's credibility will be at stake as well if the non-official source has skeletons in his or her closet that will label him or her a "liar."

It appears to me that a "free press" is concerned only with the bottom-line. This is understandable as the "free press" is run as a business, and essentially is a business. The alternative to this would be state-run press... Which would not exactly be a "free press," and much more susceptible to propaganda.

The filters that Chomsky and Herman speak have a tremendous effect on what news we as the public receive. It's as though the media must bow to the government and publishers concerned only with the bottom-line, or walk on glass in order to report and investigate news.

4 Comments:

Blogger Hezellig said...

You are giving the government way too much credit. Look into what the lobby-ists are pushing. That's where your news comes from.

2/02/2006 3:42 PM  
Blogger S.Block said...

My news? Do you mean lobbyists? Are you even in this class?

2/02/2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger A. Mattson said...

First of all, it doesn't matter whether Hezellig is in this class or not as long as his/her comments are constructive--And I think it is a constructive comment. What about the role of the lobbyists in pushing certain issues on government officials and the media?

Now, back to your post. A good one, but you overstate your case. For example: "It appears to me that a "free press" is concerned only with the bottom-line." That is a big generalization. The bottom-line is an important constraint on news gathering but it is by no means the "only" concern. By overstating your case you weaken your argument as a whole.
Another example of a good point taken to far:
"the media is pure propaganda masked as objective news. They, the media, are reporting facts, but only the facts that official sources, such as government officials, wish to give them"

Do you really believe that the media is "pure propaganda"? Do they really "only" report the facts fed to them by official sources?

So, to sum up, I think you have some strong points to make here but you need to recognize complexity and nuance.

2/09/2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger S.Block said...

I don't believe that the media is "pure propaganda." In context of what I wrote, it is pure propaganda if what Chomsky and Herman wrote is the truth. I think that there are many good journalists in the media reporting objective news but I think that most media outlets are concerned with a "bottom-line" more than objective reporting.
Again, I don't think that journalists only report what is fed to them from officials. I wrote this a response to Chomsky and Herman.

2/09/2006 3:02 PM  

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