I think that in light of the election, I’d discuss one of my favourite philosopher and political activist, Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is known for his groundbreaking and controversial theories in linguistics and U.S foreign policy. In Edward Herman’s and Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent, they go in depth about the propaganda model theory. In their work, they highlight the five filters in how news and media are created and how it eventually becomes propaganda.
The first filter is limitations on ownership. Ownership determines how media gets made and put out. The idea of having owned media came to be as a result as regulating working-class media. The less media ownership that existed, the smaller the competition. However, ownership may not affect the direct message but ownership does give the leaders an advantage in getting their voices heard. I believe ownership influences can be mostly seen through synergy which can be seen in some of the major media conglomerates. An example of synergy in action is when Time Magazine, who is owned by Time Warner, featured the Harry Potter movies on the cover several times for almost each year that the film was released. Oh did I mention that the producers of the movie are Warner Brothers, which is owned by Time Warner. Limitation on ownership lessens the competition.
The second filter advertisement. Advertisement was introduced in order to make newspapers affordable for the public. It is because of advertisements that the media is depended on money to survive. Most importantly due to the growth and need for advertisement in newspapers, “normative reference organizations” arises. Normative reference organization gives advertisers the power to influence what gets put out in the paper. If the advertisers don’t agree with a certain view, they don’t have to give the funding to the newspaper, which can be a problem for the newspaper itself. So most mediums would work around the demands of the advertisers so they both get what they want.
The third filter consists of information provided by the government, business leaders, and experts. In the current world that we live in, there are regulations around media and news censorship. Whether it is seen through the Freedom of Speech or the Freedom of the Press, these regulations are made by the people in power such as government officials, councilors, including business leaders and experts. So it’s important in the media to appeal in a form to those that have power upon your medium. Furthermore, the media is believed to have an objective outlook. By shining light to this information, they stay “objective” in the essence.
The fourth filter that Herman and Chomsky’s mention is the power to “flak”. Flak is a negative response to a media statement or program. These responses can be letters, phone calls, petitions or even lawsuits. Essentially, flak is some sort of scandal. What surprised me the most is how the major producers of flak tend to be the government. They are constantly correcting the media and adjusting the lines in which they can and cannot cross. As the media, it is important to avoid such scandal because if a situation gets more power than it should, it not only ruins the medium’s credibility and reputation but they also start losing support. This is why I was mad when Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! got charged for an inappropriate and ridiculous thing such as trespassing when she was simply reporting the issues around the Dakota Pipeline.
Last but not least, anticommunism is the last filter implemented in the propaganda model. The formation of the anticommunist ideology is what gives the media the ability to exist in the market. In the free market, the media is able to be unregulated. The Freedom of the Press is the essential and the most important rule that the media works and lives by. If this freedom is taken away, what happens to the actual content in the medium. It makes sense that the media would present anticommunism ideologies in order to coexist. Anticommunism propaganda was more prominent during the cold war. It wasn’t only seen in news media, though, it could also be seen in comic books, music, and film. The regulators know that mass media has an impactful force of thought control that by putting further anticommunism ideologies, the less communist activist and personal would be created. I’m not too sure how this is seen now, but I will be exploring it soon. So keep an eye ;).
The propaganda model is a perfect example by Herman and Chomsky that identifies how easy the media is controlled. Though it folds a substantial power over the masses, it itself is controlled by those in power. These people tend to be the elite, as mentioned they are government leaders, the rich and experts.
So now that clown face is president I am sure the media is going to start spinning more than usual. It is important to know how media is created before you allow yourself to read and believe what you read. Facts check and use credible sources, don’t stick to one medium.