24 March 2012

Propaganda Model

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. The structural factors that dominate media operations are not all-controlling; however, dissent and inconvenient information are kept within bounds and at the margins, so that they are not large enough to interfere unduly with the domination of the official agenda.

The democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth. The standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality. The media serve and propagandize on behalf of the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. These interests have important agendas and principles that they want to advance, and they are well positioned to shape and constrain media policy.

The essential ingredients of our propaganda model:
[1] concentrated ownership of the dominant mass-media firms
[2] advertising as the primary income source of the mass media
[3] information provided by government, business, and “experts”
[4] “flak” as a means of disciplining the media
[5] “anticommunism” as a national religion and control mechanism.

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