In their book Manufacturing Consent (published in 1988), Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky proposed that the mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalised assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”, by means of the propaganda model of communication.
To understand this view better, let’s watch the video below:
It is worth mentioning that the term “manufacturing consent” was first used by Walter Lippmann in his book “Public Opinion,” which was published in 1922. Lippmann argued that the terms news and truth were not synonymous. While he was talking about the lack of objectivity in journalism due to the subjective interpretation and biases of a journalist (and similarly Chomsky and Herman were talking about TV broadcast), the problem has become far worse in the age of digital media and internet.
This has occurred due to the following reasons:
- Anyone can now create and share the news.
- Clickbait journalism where media agencies focus on attractive headlines and not on the accuracy of the content.
- Media portals don’t clearly differentiate between a paid news and an editorial news, and often it is hard for common people to identify which one is which.
- People have got used to the notion of “free news” or “free information” which means they do not pay for their news. However, they pay for it indirectly (and rather heavily) by falling prey to the propaganda.
So… what can you do to avoid falling into this trap. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do, which would be of great help:
- Pay for your news. Today, most news agencies are firing their staff; they are relying lesser and lesser on reporters and more on marketers. If you would not pay for the news, the market would do it for you and serve its own purpose.
- Keep an eye on local news-reporters. While it is difficult to evaluate the objectivity of national and international news, the best you can do is to judge what you see in your immediate neighbourhood and how it gets reported in local media. This will give you a clear answer to who is doing a credible job and who is faking it. Empower the former and ignore the latter.
- Identify the journalists who are doing serious work and support them in their work. You can even get in touch with them to see how you can be of any help.
- Finally, read. And read books. Unlike mass media, this space still enjoys a lot of freedom and provides in-depth analysis on any subject, which means the chances of slipping in false information or propaganda are slim and can be easily identified.
Do your part and you could definitely expect a change in which you get your news which would be closer to the truth than otherwise.