Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: When Images Compete as Fiercely as Armies

Monday, April 17, 2006

When Images Compete as Fiercely as Armies

Jefferson Morley’s piece, “When Images Compete as Fiercely as Armies” does a good job comparing and contrasting the biases of Western and Middle Eastern Journalism. Morley points out that the world was largely dependant on the Western media (CNN) to get news about the 1991 Gulf War.

In 2003 however, there were over 20 stations reporting the story, including several Middle-East based stations (Al Jazeera being most famous). Coverage by these Middle-East stations often displayed graphic images of civilian casualties as well as dead GI’s, in contrast to the coverage of US media.

The differing coverage goes a long way to explaining how different populations view themselves and the conflict (according to the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland (UM) 62% of Americans thought the rest of the world either favored, or was indifferent to an American invasion of Iraq even though the invasion was almost universally opposed outside the US).

While cultural differences are certainly a factor in shaping opinion, the power of media to influence public opinion is well displayed by this disparity in popular belief.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

It is hard to underestimate the level of American ignorance of world opinion. Have the media failed to cover the world or is the public simply not interested? Who is to blame here? Or is it a combination?

On the other point, we must recognize the very difficult situation that our government is in as it tries to manage world opinion about the war in Iraq. The incredible power of the American media is not enough to dominate the global clash of voices that swirls around us. There are too many competitors for the American government to control or even influence in any significant way. This is a changed media landscape that we cannot manage despite the enormous imbalance in economic and military resources.

4/17/2006 11:15 PM  

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