Reading "Manufacturing Consent"

Published by Arun Isaac on

In other languages: தமிழ்

Tags: politics

Two weeks ago, on October 15, in one of Concern's reading sessions, we read the first chapter of Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. The book describes a propaganda model that describes how the mass media are not objective but rather publish news favourable to the government and the ruling elite. This is a short summary of the five filters of the propaganda model developed in the book.

Two weeks ago, on October 15, in one of Concern's reading sessions, we read the first chapter of Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. The book describes a propaganda model that describes how the mass media are not objective but rather publish news favourable to the government and the ruling elite. The propaganda model involves five filters which are summarized below. For much more detailed arguments with examples, numbers and citations, please read the book.

Size, Ownership and Profit Orientation

The media industry is dominated by a few large companies. Founding a new newspaper or TV channel is not easy. It requires a large initial investment. So, it is very difficult for a new media company to enter the market and compete with the existing players. Moreover, many of the existing media companies are fully integrated into the market, and the pressures of stockholders, directors and bankers to focus on profitability further restricts the autonomy of these companies.

The Advertising License to do Business

Working class people have low purchasing power. Therefore, it is not in the interest of advertisers to target advertisements at them by placing advertisements in working class and radical newspapers. Newspapers with advertisements can afford to sell at a copy price well below production costs. Newspapers without advertisements cannot compete with this low cost and go out of business. So, all you have left are advertisement supported media that cater to an affluent audience. These media do not seriously question the status quo and prefer to not publish anything on complex issues so as to not interfere with the buying mood.

Sourcing News

The media cannot afford to station reporters everywhere. So, they station them at government and corporate offices where significant news often occurs. Also, these government and corporate sources are generally presumed credible. So, the media can publish their statements as fact without much investigative expense. Establishing credibility of dissenting views requires much more investigative effort and expense.

Flak

Flak refers to any form of negative response to a media statement. It can be backlash from the government, ruling elite, or from funding agencies, expensive lawsuits, etc. In order to avoid these problems, the media self-censors and prefers to stick to official or mainstream views.

Anticommunism as a Control Mechanism

Communism is a great threat to the ruling classes. The well-publicized abuses of communist states such as Soviet Russia, China and Cuba has helped establish communism as the prime evil in the public imagination. But, since the concept of communism is fuzzy, the ruling elite demonizes any policy that threatens their interests as communism and generates public opposition to it.