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The Propaganda Model

We often talk about news channels having their political, religious ideologies and moulding information accordingly. Edward. Herman and Noam Chomsky noticed this and wrote a book on this issue - Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

Today we’ll explore one of the main concepts talked about in this book - The Propaganda Model.

The propaganda model is a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky to explain how propaganda and systemic biases function in corporate mass media. ~ Wikipedia

The paradigm attempts to understand how societies are exploited, and how approval is "manufactured" in the popular consciousness owing to this manipulation for cultural, social, and political policies. The theory argues that the way corporate media is organized (e.g. by ads, media ownership accumulation) generates an implicit conflict of interest which acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces. It tries to understand how the population is manipulated, and how the social, economic, political attitudes are fashioned in the minds of people through propaganda. Herman and Chomsky mostly concentrated on the American population and media for their research but this theory is universally applicable.

In their book Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky say “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”.

According to the theory, media operates as a business which sells its products (readers and subscribers) to other business entities that do their advertisements in media, rather than performing the function of disseminating news for the public. Here the news is being misshaped and reformed from its original form. Herman and Chomsky call the factors which misshape news as filters. The news is being filtered by each of these factors before it reaches its audience or the general public.

The five filters are:

Size, Ownership and Profit orientation of mass media

The major media organizations are in the hands of a few elites. The major news channels, newspapers and other mass media instruments are a part of large corporations and conglomerations. They surrender certain news objectives as a part of optimizing income. Such organizations' considerable financial interests can threaten the accuracy of the news.


The advertisements play a major role in funding in mass media. If advertisements were not funding mass media, then the price of the newspapers may include the cost of its production and also it’s applicable for other mass media like Television, Radio and electronic media. So it is common that the media filters the news, in favour of their advertisement providers.


Even the biggest media houses cannot have reporters covering every story as soon as it breaks. Still, we see headlines minutes after a major incident takes place.


The answers are these sources.

Sometimes there are tip-offs but mostly, each media house has people in major places like the parliament, judiciary who serve as a source and often, media houses manipulate information in favour of these sources.


Flaks refer to the negative responses to the statement or programme published or broadcasted. If the flaks are produced on a large scale it is destructive to the media. As a filter, it will try to avoid the news items which may bring sorts of negative responses.


This was majorly from an American perspective but might prove true in an increasingly capitalist world like the one today. Anti-communism. Communism was an ultimate evil for American corporates because it took their wealth and power from them, it threatened their superior positions and high class. So the elites who are the owners of the media adopted a policy to bring censorship to the articles and news which talks about the good side of communism.

This is the story of the propaganda model. This is a story of how economies manufacture content and consent. Do let us know what you think about it!

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