Saturday, January 9, 2021

Chomsky's Propaganda Model

 Although a bit dated e.g. the ideology to be feared way back in 1988 was communism whereas now it is anything the media chooses; and pre-Google, Facebook, Twitter, as a general model this still stands up to rigorous analysis.

We'll be coming back to much of this but for now I just want to get some of the more useful pages onto the blog.

"They who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness."
~ John Milton (intro to the book, Manufacturing Consent)

First up, from

A Propaganda Model
Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky
Excerpted from Manufacturing Consent, 1988

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. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.

In countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a state bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media, often supplemented by official censorship, makes it clear that the media serve the ends of a dominant elite. It is much more difficult to see a propaganda system at work where the media are private and formal censorship is absent. This is especially true where the media actively compete, periodically attack and expose corporate and governmental malfeasance, and aggressively portray themselves as spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest. What is not evident (and remains undiscussed in the media) is the limited nature of such critiques, as well as the huge inequality in command of resources, and its effect both on access to a private media system and on its behavior and performance.

A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news "filters," fall under the following headings: (I) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (~) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and "experts" funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) "flak" as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) "anticommunism" as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.

The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news "objectively" and on the basis of professional news values. Within the limits of the filter constraints they often are objective; the constraints are so powerful, and are built into the system in such a fundamental way, that alternative bases of news choices are hardly imaginable. In assessing the newsworthiness of the U.S. government’s urgent claims of a shipment of MIGs to Nicaragua on November 5, I984, the media do not stop to ponder the bias that is inherent in the priority assigned to government-supplied raw material, or the possibility that the government might be manipulating the news, imposing its own agenda, and deliberately diverting attention from other material. It requires a macro, alongside a micro- (story-by-story), view of media operations, to see the pattern of manipulation and systematic bias.



Some arguments raised against the model, from

Four criticisms of the propaganda model

Back to
The Propaganda Model after 20 Years: Interview with Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman interviewed by Andrew Mullen
Westminster Papers in Communiction and Culture, November 2009

And finally, from Human as Media:

The news media: manufacturing anger, not consent. Herman-Chomsky’s Propaganda model revised

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.”
—Noam Chomsky


Still working to take your "nudge" game to the next level?
Wish there had been more 'how-to' and hands-on info in "The Psychopathy of  Everyday Life"?
Think Edward Bernays was a piker and Goebbels was a punk?

Well friend, look no further for your manipulation needs. Here's the latest research in easily digested pieces.

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:....