26 March 2012

News Experts

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

The media need a steady, reliable flow of the raw material of news. They have daily news demands and news schedules that they must met. They cannot afford to have reporters and cameras at all places where important stories may break. Economics dictates that they concentrate their resources where significant news often occurs, where important rumors and leaks abound, and where regular press conferences are held. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, in Washington, D.C., are central nodes of such news activity. The large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring the raw materials of, and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become “routine” news sources and have privileged access to the gates.

The media incorporates “proper-thinking experts” to confirm ideologies that are taken for granted. Censorship is largely self-censorship by the pre-selection of right-thinking people - reporters and commentators - who have internalized the constraints imposed by centers of power. 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.

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