The political economy of the media: radical versus liberal theories of the press. (WEEK 4)

How persuasive is Chomsky and Herman’s radical analysis of the media and their presentation of the ‘propaganda model’?

The propaganda theorist Edward Bernays says propaganda is that “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and options of the masses” (1928). In a broad term, the idea Chomsky and Herman came forward is they argue the American media serves a propagandise on behalf of powerful interest in American society. The theory of ‘propaganda model’ uses the structural economic principles to explain the reason that some media reports are inevitable biased. The propaganda model assumes that the products of media are the readers/audiences instead of the news, and media sells them to advertisers. The news have to go through five filters before presenting to the world.

The first filter is the owner of mass-media firms. Mainstream media usually is/belongs to a big corporation. Because the corporation which also has other business, so if some news may affects the benefits of other business, which would be filtered.

The second filter is what Herman and Chomsky call ‘advertising license to do business’. Advertising as the primary income source of the mass media, the benefits of advertisers are more important than the news reports.

The third filter advanced is the way the mass media sources news.The reliance of the media on information provided by government, business and ‘experts’ funded are approved by these primary sources and agents of power. Because the news media needs a lot of news information to cover daily reports, media will avoid damaging the interests of the source of the news.

The first three layers of filtration are considered the most important. The Fourth filter is ‘flak’ as a means of discipling the media. Also, the final filter would be different ideology at different time; for instance, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ‘anticommunism’ has became a national religion and control mechanism.

(Total words: 314)


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