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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media Cover

ISBN13: 9780375714498
ISBN10: 0375714499
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this pathbreaking work, now with a new introduction, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Based on a series of case studies—including the medias dichotomous treatment of “worthy” versus “unworthy” victims, “legitimizing” and “meaningless” Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina—Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the medias behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications. These include the manner in which the media covered the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent Mexican financial meltdown of 1994-1995, the medias handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the medias treatment of the chemical industry and its regulation. What emerges from this work is a powerful assessment of how propagandistic the U.S. mass media are, how they systematically fail to live up to their self-image as providers of the kind of information that people need to make sense of the world, and how we can understand their function in a radically new way.

Review:

"Herman of Wharton and Chomsky of MIT lucidly document their argument that America's government and its corporate giants exercise control over what we read, see and hear....A disturbing picture emerges of a news system that panders to the interests of America's privileged and neglects its duties when the concerns of minority groups and the underclass are at stake. First serial to the Progressive." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"The overstatements and the weakness in the 'propaganda model' that the authors try to construct are unfortunate, because many of the book's raw-data comparisons are compelling indictments of the news media's role in covering up errors and deceptions in American foreign policy of the past quarter-century." Walter LaFeber, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Manufacturing Consent really is a conspiracy theory....What [they] are right about is that the big-time American press does operate within a fairly narrow range of assumptions, and that it...tends to...reflect what Herman and Chomsky, meaning to be withering, call 'patriotic premises.'" The New Republic

Review:

"The chapters do not all work equally well....Overall, though, 'Manufacturing Consent' succeeds both as brilliant set pieces of reportage, and as a devastating indictment of the 'free press.'" The Nation

Synopsis:

"[A] compelling indictment of the news media's role in covering up errors and deceptions in American foreign policy of the past quarter century."--Walter LaFeber, The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Edward S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Noam Chomsky is Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Rick Vigorous, July 29, 2014 (view all comments by Rick Vigorous)
The basic argument of the book is that the media, which has become ever more centralized and corporatized in recent decades, tends to show a consistent bias toward reporting the news in a way that is favorable to those in power, including government institutions and corporations.

In the book's preface, the authors make the important point that their analysis differs from a conspiracy theory in that, rather than positing some powerful puppet master who is secretly pulling all of the strings, their "propaganda model" describes the subtle pressures felt by those reporting the news that lead to a widespread understanding about what is acceptable to be presented as news and what isn't. This leads to a large amount of self-censorship of which most of those involved probably aren't even aware. In this sense, the propaganda model is more like a market analysis than a conspiracy theory. Just as important as censorship of the news content is the way that the framework for debate is presented in a way that is congenial to those in positions of power, although they very often don't have to demand this explicitly. An example of such a framework is the way in which the media constantly frames all political stories as a battle between Democrats and Republicans, leaving alternative narratives unexamined. For example, the possibility of decreasing military spending is never discussed, although polls show consistent and widespread public support for this. Rather, the two sides that are presented are the Republicans' plan for huge increases versus the Democrats' plan for moderate increases.

The propaganda model comprises five key components, which act as successive filters through which the news must pass:

(i) Size, ownership, and profit orientation of mass media. The US media has become ever more centralized in recent decades, with a handful of huge corporations and very wealthy individuals making up the majority of it. Thus it is no surprise that corporate interests tend to be well represented by the media. In some cases this can lead to flagrant conflicts of interest. For example, General Electric, which owns NBC, is involved in weapons production and obviously might prefer the news on this topic to be reported in a certain way.

(ii) Dependence on advertising revenue. This tends to put news outlets oriented towards a working-class audience at a disadvantage, since advertisers are less willing to pay for the privilege of advertising to such "lower quality" audiences that don't have much buying power. Further, news outlets have a strong incentive not to upset their advertisers. Reading this chapter led me to reflect on the large number of television advertisements by oil and gas companies that one sees these days, in which the companies boast about how virtuous and necessary they are, working together to create American jobs and build a better future. One can imagine how the relationship between Exxon and CNN might sour if the latter were to air an investigative documentary critical of fracking, for example.

(iii) The reliance of media on government, big business, and "experts" for news. It's much easier for media to get their news by going to a weekly press conference at the White House than it is to get it by going out into the world and doing investigative journalism. This sort of tendency creates a cozy relationship between the media and those in power. As Herman and Chomsky put it, "It's very difficult to call authorities on whom one depends for news liars, even if they tell whoppers."

(iv) "Flak" as a means of influencing content. The term "flak" refers to any negative responses that the media receives from parties that are unhappy about the way that the news has been reported. While flak can come from both ordinary individuals and large, established organizations, the latter are generally in a better position to produce flak that will actually lead to a media response. Important sources of flak are think tanks, corporations, and the government, all of which can seek to ensure that the media is strongly rebuffed for not being sufficiently pro-business, etc.

(v) Anticommunism as an overarching ideology. Obviously this was more relevant when the book was written in 1988. It's tempting to apply the same framework to today's media, but with "communism" replaced by "terrorism," the arch nemesis of all Very Serious People in the media and government today. The analogy isn't quite perfect, though, since anticommunism as a state religion could be used naturally to push a pro-corporate agenda, which lies at the heart of the propaganda model, in a way that antiterrorism can't. (There are some obvious exceptions, of course, in the case of firms like Halliburton, for whom the War on Terror has been quite lucrative.)

On the whole I found this book to be a very enlightening read. Despite the fact that many of the examples are a bit dated, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a critical perspective on mass media today.
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NewActiobpd, August 6, 2007 (view all comments by NewActiobpd)
Now more than ever specially with advanced technology and quick electronic transactions across the World, true media needs to be available. Society needs to have dialogue at all levels and social classes of matters that may affect their lives. It is becoming scarier to think Media has become even more of a liar and this could cause society to self-destruct. People since the beggining of time have shaped society and worked to improve it when needed and forged their communities, however now we are having centralized banks and governments along with the Corporate interests Shaping the society and forming it Unnaturally. It will be a matter of time before a new kind of Frankestein problem developes due to Greed and then it may be too later to reverse the damages. All other people since made powerless wont be able to revert or even be able to help in the changing of a negative situation. So, yes this book is extremely relevant to what is going on today and we need to find a solution for its getting worse as each day passes. We have NAU warehouses all over the Nation and task forces h a r m onizing laws for Amexicanada as called in the streets. Is the media insane and not fear that when people discover and even the other parties involved that they were lied to and plans to make these changes even date back to the 50's and done in increments? There are so many lies that I sure hope people just quit buying newspapers or even watch television. ABC is owned by Disney? So what are we getting there Fantasia?
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375714498
Subtitle:
The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Author:
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
Author:
Chomsky, Noam
Author:
Herman, Edward S.
Author:
Chomsky, Noam, Et
Publisher:
Pantheon
Location:
New York
Subject:
Mass media
Subject:
Practical Politics
Subject:
U.S. Government
Subject:
Ownership
Subject:
Mass media and propaganda
Subject:
Mass Media - General
Subject:
Political Process - General
Subject:
Government - U.S. Government
Subject:
Media Studies
Subject:
Mass media -- Ownership.
Subject:
Politics-United States Politics
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
politics;media;non-fiction;propaganda;history;mass media;media studies;sociology;chomsky;current affairs;economics;philosophy;political economy;journalism;culture;cultural studies;imperialism;communication;noam chomsky;usa;theory;political;communications;
Subject:
politics;media;non-fiction;propaganda;history;mass media;media studies;sociology;chomsky;current affairs;economics;philosophy;political economy;journalism;culture;cultural studies;imperialism;communication;noam chomsky;usa;theory;political;communications;
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
72-67.
Publication Date:
20020115
Binding:
Undefined
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9.23x6.25x1.24 in. 1.42 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Journalism » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Chomsky Noam
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Leftist Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media New Trade Paper
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Product details 480 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375714498 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Herman of Wharton and Chomsky of MIT lucidly document their argument that America's government and its corporate giants exercise control over what we read, see and hear....A disturbing picture emerges of a news system that panders to the interests of America's privileged and neglects its duties when the concerns of minority groups and the underclass are at stake. First serial to the Progressive."
"Review" by , "The overstatements and the weakness in the 'propaganda model' that the authors try to construct are unfortunate, because many of the book's raw-data comparisons are compelling indictments of the news media's role in covering up errors and deceptions in American foreign policy of the past quarter-century."
"Review" by , "Manufacturing Consent really is a conspiracy theory....What [they] are right about is that the big-time American press does operate within a fairly narrow range of assumptions, and that it...tends to...reflect what Herman and Chomsky, meaning to be withering, call 'patriotic premises.'"
"Review" by , "The chapters do not all work equally well....Overall, though, 'Manufacturing Consent' succeeds both as brilliant set pieces of reportage, and as a devastating indictment of the 'free press.'"
"Synopsis" by , "[A] compelling indictment of the news media's role in covering up errors and deceptions in American foreign policy of the past quarter century."--Walter LaFeber, The New York Times Book Review
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