Political Economy and the Propaganda Model of Noam Chomsky

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Using one of the case studies outlined by Chomsky & Herman in ‘Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of the Mass Media’, critically assess the main propositions put forward in their analysis of the mass media. Is the ‘Propaganda Model’ still relevant today?

Noam Chomsky along with Edward Herman has developed the "Propaganda Model" of the media works. They helped develop the detailed and sophisticated analysis of how the wealthy and powerful use the media to propagandise their own interests behind a mask of objective news reporting. Herman and Chomsky expound this analysis in their book ‘Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’. In their 1988 book, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model’ argues that there are 5 classes of 'filters' in society which determine what is 'news'; in other words, what gets broadcast by radio or printed in newspapers and shown on television. Herman and Chomsky's model also explains how dissent from the mainstream is given little, or zero, coverage, while governments and big business gain easy access to the public in order to convey their state-corporate messages. Noam Chomsky has been engaged in political activism most of his life; he spoke up firstly about the media coverage of Nicaragua. July 19, 1979 - the leftist Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN/Sandinistas) rolled into Managua, Nicaragua leader of the insurrection that had finally succeeded in overthrowing the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Then there was the election in 1984. The American coverage for the elections in Nicaragua and el Salvador are a key aspect which Chomsky and Herman cover in Manufacturing Consent, and one which Chomsky spoke of on many occasions. The media covered both elections in both countries simultaneously the American media condemned the outcome of the election in Nicaragua as a “soviet sham” because the new Nicaraguan government were against the American puppet government and were a more socialist country. Because President Reagan's war created a need for a propaganda victory, in December 1983 the Sandinistas outsmarted Washington by scheduling their first post-triumph election earlier than originally planned— 2 days before Americans would decide whether President Reagan should continue to lead the country.The Media coverage up to this point had been little in the way of truth, and of the actual happenings of Nicaragua in the past. What they were trying to achieve, for many years, and most of all about the upcoming elections of the time. The American press seemed to try and protect America’s interest and perception by the people, then to deliver unbiased reporting.The fact that most of the rest of the world was opposed to Reagan's terrorist activities didn’t filter through to the Americans. Most of the Nicaraguan people, along with many worldwide had hoped that if the Sandinistas won as expected, Washington would accept the results and call off President Reagan’s “freedom fighters". This was a naïve hope, as Secretary of State George P. Shultz made clear: "with or without elections we will continue our policy of pressuring Nicaragua".Nicaragua was in the news on election night in the U.S, but the story that was in the news was not one on Nicaragua’s election. The story was of soviet MIGs. As reported by CBS Evening News on November 6, 1984, the soviet freighter Bakuriani was on its way to Nicaragua with MIG 21 fighters aboard. The ‘sham election’ story was succeeded quickly by the security threat story. The overwhelming majority of objective observers concluded that the election was conducted competently and fairly by the Supreme Electoral Council, and that all Nicaraguan political parties had been given ample opportunity and resources to campaign and get their messages out to the people without serious hindrance from the Sandinistas.While all this was going on, the American government stated on the complete flipside that the El Salvador election,...
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