The definition of Propaganda (according to Wikipedia) is:
"communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda."
"...a specific type of message presentation, aimed at serving an agenda. Even if the message conveys true information, it may be partisan and fail to paint a complete picture. The book Propaganda And Persuasion defines propaganda as "the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.""
"Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based upon the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of religious principle and patriotic duty."
News, whether TV, radio, newspaper or internet, is a potent source of propaganda. A huge difference between TV news and newspaper/internet is the cost of production. For example, a one hour episode of "60 Minutes" costs about $600,000 to produce. The cost of producing a newspaper and/or internet news site pales in comparison. Numerous smaller organizations and companies, with differing viewpoints and standards can afford to produce print-based news. But only huge corporations can afford the production costs and costs related to buying stations and/or channels. Fox News, for example, lost millions of dollars before finally turning a profit.
"The better the looks of United States Congresspersons, the more television coverage they receive, shows a new study from the University of Haifa recently published in the journal Political Communication. The reason behind this? Television journalists think their viewers prefer to see physically attractive people." - PsyPost (Dec 2011)
"Television can encourage awareness of political perspectives among Americans, but the incivility and close-up camera angles that characterize much of today’s “in your face” televised political debate also causes audiences to react more emotionally and think of opposing views as less legitimate." - Science Daily (Dec 2007)
For many commentators, the solution is for TV news to be reformed. After all, TV news is the main source of news for most Americans, if TV news could be improved, that would solve the problem of a misinformed electorate.
Al Gore, in his book The Assault on Reason, agrees with this reasoning, but he also goes further. He argues that it isn't just the content of TV news that is the problem, but that it is TV itself (the medium) which is a problem, because of it's one-way passive nature.
"...the Internet is not just another platform for disseminating the truth. It's a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services. It's a platform, in other words, for reason.
Mr. Gore also makes the argument that reading stimulates the intellect, while television (the medium) stimulates the emotions...with disastrous consequences for our Democracy.
"The dominant use of television as a news source, however, has raised concern among communication researchers because the common presumption is that television is too fast-paced to be an effective information medium (e.g., Singer, 1980). Compared with television, print is assumed to be considerably more effective because print offers more opportunities to exercise control over the processing of information than television does. Unlike viewers, readers can digest the news at their own pace, reread passages, and check details--all of which can facilitate memory for news information (e.g., Gunter, 1987)."
"The relative ineffectiveness of television news compared with print news has been supported by a number of media comparison experiments that compared memory for television news stories with memory for printed versions of the television narratives. In most of these studies, participants indeed remembered more from the printed news than from the television stories (e.g., DeFleur, Davenport, Cronin, & DeFleur, 1992; Facorro & DeFleur, 1993; Furnham & Gunter, 1985, 1987; Gunter & Furnham, 1986; Gunter, Furnham, & Gietson, 1984; Gunter, Furnham, & Leese, 1986; Wicks & Drew, 1991; Wilson, 1974)."
See also: Media and Learning by Steven D. Tripp University of Aizu "Although Furnham and Gunter have found a variety of results under differing conditions, they have consistently found that subjects remember material presented in a print medium better than identical material presented in an audio medium or a combined audiovisual medium. Gunter (1987) concluded that this was due to the INHERENT CAPACITIES of these different media to convey knowledge. These differences were found for samples drawn from populations of schoolchildren, university students, military personnel, and non-students. Across these categories the most consistent result was that subjects REMEMBER BETTER from print materials than audio or audiovisual materials."
Newscasters will keep promising a particularly interesting story "coming up next!". Meanwhile the viewer has to sit there and watch a bunch of commercials, and/or uninteresting and/or irrelevant stories until the story they are interested in finally arrives.
With the print news, on the other hand, the reader can pick and choose what to read without following the the dictates of the newscaster. The reader can actively seek out which areas of the news to focus on and/or browse the contents. Readers can also re-read and/or bookmark the stories that they find particularly compelling.
"Conservative columnist David Frum, who was speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, blasted Fox News on Sunday for creating an "alternative knowledge system."
In an article published by New York Magazine in late November, Frum had argued that conservative media like Fox News and talk radio "immerse their audience in a total environment of pseudo-facts and pretend information." - Crooks & Liars (Dec 2011)
"Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling." - New York Magazine (Nov 2011)
"Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much... When contemplating the ruthless brilliance of this system, it’s tempting to fall back on the theory that the GOP is masterminded by a cadre of sinister billionaires, deftly manipulating the political process for their own benefit... Yet, for the most part, these Republican billionaires are not acting cynically. They watch Fox News too,and they’re gripped by the same apocalyptic fears as the Republican base.” - Outside The Beltway (Nov 2011)
"Study Shows Fox News Viewers Less Informed on Major Stories” - Slate (Nov 2011)
"How the Head of Fox News is making Americans more Right-wing, more ignorant and ever more terrified.” - Alternet (Aug 2011)
"“In polls,” Stewart said, in a surprisingly angry tone, “who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.” - Washington Monthly (June 2011)
"Asked what most viewers and observers of Fox News would be surprised to learn about the controversial cable channel, a former insider from the world of Rupert Murdoch was quick with a response: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.”" - Media Matters (Feb 2011) and Raw Story (Feb 2011)
"We report. You decide. Does President Bush owe his controversial win in 2000 to Fox cable television news? Yes, suggest data collected by two economists who found that the growth of the Fox cable news network in the late 1990s may have significantly boosted the Republican Party's share of the vote in the 2000 election and delivered Florida to Bush." - The Washington Post (May 2006)
"The content of the Fox News Channel is a direct outgrowth from the views held by its owner: News Corp. and CEO Rupert Murdoch. Fox News Channel was launched in 1996 "as a specific alternative to what its founders perceived as a liberal bias in the American media"" - turnoffyourtv.com (2004)
"In 1976 Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post and it has lost money every year since, the total loss estimated to be more than half a billion dollars. In 1983, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon created the Washington Times, which has also lost money every year. Widely published reports place Moon's losses at over $1 billion on the Times and other political media including a purchase the venerable wire service UPI. These money losing properties have put dozens of conservatively slanted stories onto the national radar screen, altered the framing of every important political issues, and nurtured virtually every right wing pundit who now thrive as TV talking heads. " - Down With Tyranny (Jan 2010)
"The national media is based in large urban centers, so it should come as no surprise that conservatives would rarely see their views on strictly social issues well represented. But on matters of substance, we are talking about a corporate-owned media that pushes relentlessly for "free trade" deals, foreign wars and fiscal "austerity."" - Alternet (Dec 2010)
"Over three-quarters of the guests featured on nine television networks have expressed opposition to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate to regulate greenhouse gasses (GHG), according to a new report.” - Raw Story (June 2011)
"In a word, massively. This, in turn, influences the way people see the world and, as a result, the media is a key means by which the general population come to accept, and support, "the arrangements of the social, economic, and political order." The media, in other words "are vigilant guardians protecting privilege from the threat of public understanding and participation." This process ensures that state violence is not necessary to maintain the system as "more subtle means are required: the manufacture of consent, [and] deceiving the masses with 'necessary illusions." [Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, pp. 13-4 and p. 19] The media, in other words, are a key means of ensuring that the dominant ideas within society are those of the dominant class." - Experts123
TV News - Right Wing or Left Wing?
"New Report Exposes Corporate Media's Love Affair with Right-Wingers: 'Reporters Can't Get Enough of Them" - Alternet (Dec 2010)
"In the 1970's, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw set out to understand how news organizations affect what people view as their most pressing civic issues. In their study they examined local (Chapel Hill, N.C.) newspapers and news broadcasts and then asked residents to list what issues they were most concerned about. What they found was telling. A majority of the respondents cited concerns that matched the front-page and lead stories in their local newspaper and TV news broadcasts. They also found that the news stories that newspapers and broadcasts devoted less time and space to ended up being on the bottom of the respondents' lists. Over the years, repeated studies by other researchers have yielded similar results." - Psychology Today Blog (Oct 2009)
"Study Claims Even the Most Sophisticated News Readers Can Be Manipulated" - Alternet (Nov 2009)
"Silvio Berlusconi's standard response, whenever he is challenged about his media power, is to exclaim indignantly that the Italian press is as free as any in the world. That, of course, misses the point that he either controls or influences six of the seven main terrestrial channels (the sole exception being La7, owned by Telecom Italia). The effects can be seen clearly in TV coverage of the latest wave of sex scandals to wash over Italy's prime minister. Corriere della Sera's TV critic, Aldo Grasso, called it "a triumph of reticence". He added: "if you followed the Italian television news bulletins, you would understand very little"." - The Guardian (Nov 2010)
"Take a sex scandal dogging Silvio Berlusconi, add plenty of scantily clad young women on Italian TV and throw in some of the first serious scrutiny of a national culture where television lies at the nexus of power and politics." - The Seattle Times (Dec 2009)
"In a year when political spending on TV advertising will hit an all-time high of $3 billion, all television programs are not created equal. Each major party targets different sets of voters by choosing to run ads for their candidates during different types of shows." - Mediaite (Nov 2010)
""They demonstrate a new, emerging trend in campaign advertising. We're seeing a blurring of the line between politics and entertainment."” - NPR (June 2011)
"The corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism 2014 NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and dozens of local TV news outlets 2014 are lobbying against a Federal Communications Commission measure that would require broadcasters to post political ad data on the Internet." - Raw Story (April 2012)
Attack Ads Work
"Normally, an ad has its greatest punch very soon after it's first seen. But a 1999 study by Ruthann Lariscy and Spencer Tinkham found that this was less true of negative campaign ads, whose persuasive impact actually grew over a period of several weeks, even when the source of the message was perceived as not very credible to begin with. One possible explanation is that when people first see the negative ad, they have a bad taste in their mouths at what they feel are unfair tactics, and this makes them less immediately receptive to the attack on the opponent. But this queasy feeling dissipates fairly quickly while the negative impression that sticks to the opponent is more durable." - Psychology Today Blog (March 2011)
"Research shows that even when news reports have been retracted, and we are aware of the retraction, our beliefs are largely based on the initial erroneous version of the story. This is particularly true when we are motivated to approve of the initial account." - Mind Hacks (May 2011)
"However, ads also do other things. One thing they do is to take a product and to put it next to lots of other things that we already feel positively about. For example, an ad for detergent may have fresh flowers, cute babies, and sunshine in it. All of these things are ones that we probably feel pretty good about already. And repeatedly showing the detergent along with other things that we feel good about can make us feel good about the detergent, too. This transfer of our feelings from one set of items to another is called affective conditioning (the word affect means feelings)."
"The people who went through the affective conditioning procedure picked the pen that was paired with positive items 70-80% of the time. They chose this pen, even though they had information that the other pen was better. Over the two studies in this paper, the authors found that people chose the pen that was paired with positive objects even when people were given as much time as they wanted to make a choice, and even when the instructions specifically encouraged them to pick the best choice and to say why they were choosing a particular pen."
"These results suggest that the most powerful effect of advertising is just to create a good feeling about a product by surrounding it with other things that you like. It is also important to point out that affective conditioning is most effective when you don't realize that it is happening. That is, trying to pay less attention to the ads you see on TV and in magazines may actually make this type of advertising more effective."
"For some of us, the increasingly popular practice of celebrity product endorsements is puzzling. What difference does it make if Brad Pitt recommends a particular pen, or Sally Field a certain cereal? Unless the famous spokesperson has a specific area of expertise — say, Tiger Woods endorsing a set of golf clubs — why would anyone care? A new study suggests the answer involves superstar-specific happy memories stored in our cerebral cortex. Using brain-scan technology, researchers found those positive emotions get transferred from the personality to the product, producing a more positive impression of the item in question and, presumably, a greater probability of purchasing it." - Alternet (June 2010)
"To get their message out, the conservatives have a powerful media empire, which churns out and amplifies the message of the day - or the week - through a wide network of outlets and individuals, including Fox News, talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Ann Coulter, as well as religious broadcasters like Pat Robertson and his 700 Club. On the web, it starts with TownHall.com" - Alternet (Feb 2005)
"Intrigued by these fabrications, Loftus and two colleagues conducted an experiment to test whether doctored photos could modify political memories. They selected two famous protests: Tiananmen Square and a peace rally in Rome. To a photo of the Rome rally, they added menacing protesters and police in riot gear. To an iconic image from the Beijing uprising—a lone man blocking a column of tanks—they added throngs of people lining the route. The revisions worked. Compared with subjects who saw the real photo of Tiananmen, those who saw the doctored photo were twice as likely to estimate that more than 500,000 people had participated. And compared with subjects who saw the real photo from Rome, those who saw the doctored photo were four times as likely to say that people had died in the protest. Loftus expressed alarm at the spread of photo manipulation, calling it "a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes." "We have to figure how we can regulate this," she warned." - Slate (May 2010)
"Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda, but works more subtly. The master of this nuanced approach is Malcolm Gladwell." - Alternet (June 2012)
"When the knowledge was relatively obscure, the photos increased people's belief in the knowledge. If you tell people something and show them a photo, then they are more likely to believe what you are saying - even if what you say isn't true. " - Psychology Today Blog (Feb 2011)
"When the claim was paired with a photo, the participants were more likely to judge that the claim was true." - Raw Story (Aug 2012)
"That is the power of metaphor -- a power so subtle we barely notice how much it impacts our thinking. Researchers Paul Thibodeau and Lera Boroditsky from Stanford University demonstrated how influential metaphors can be through a series of five experiments designed to tease apart the "why" and "when" of a metaphor's power. First, the researchers asked 482 students to read one of two reports about crime in the City of Addison. Later, they had to suggest solutions for the problem. In the first report, crime was described as a "wild beast preying on the city" and "lurking in neighborhoods". After reading these words, 75% of the students put forward solutions that involved enforcement or punishment, such as building more jails or even calling in the military for help. Only 25% suggested social reforms such as fixing the economy, improving education or providing better health care. The second report was exactly the same, except it described crime as a "virus infecting the city" and "plaguing" communities. After reading this version, only 56% opted for great law enforcement, while 44% suggested social reforms." - Psychology Today (May 2011)
"A copycat suicide is defined as an emulation of another suicide that the person attempting suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media." - Wikipedia
"20 Simple Steps to the Perfect Persuasive Message... 7. Match message and medium: One useful rule of thumb is: if the message is difficult to understand, write it; if it's easy, put it in a video... 10. Repetition: whether or not a statement is true, repeating it a few times gives the all-important illusion of truth. The illusion of truth leads to the reality of persuasion... 13. Minimise distraction: if you've got a strong message then audiences are more swayed if they pay attention. If the arguments are weak then it's better if they're distracted... 15. Disguise: messages are more persuasive if they don't appear to be intended to persuade or influence as they can sidestep psychological reactance (hence the power of overheard arguments to change minds)... " - PsyBlog (Dec 2010)
Since huge corporations almost always own divisions who sell to the pentagon, it is not surprising that their TV News shows wholeheatedly support war:
- Disappearing Antiwar Protests
"Hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country protested the Iraq War on the weekend of September 24-25, with the largest demonstration bringing between 100,000 and 300,000 to Washington, D.C. on Saturday. But if you relied on television for your news, you'd hardly know the protests happened at all." - FAIR (Sept 2005)
- Military Analyst Story 1
"This morning's "blockbuster" New York Times article by David Barstow, documenting the Pentagon and U.S. media's joint use of pre-programmed "military analysts" who posed as objective experts while touting the Government line and having extensive business interests in promoting those views, is very well-documented and well-reported. And credit to the NYT for having sued to compel disclosure of the documents on which the article is based. There are significant elements of the story that exemplify excellent investigative journalism. - Salon (April 2008)
- Military Analyst Story 2
"It has now been more than ten days since the New York Times exposed the Pentagon's domestic propaganda program involving retired generals and, still, not a single major news network has even mentioned the story to their viewers, let alone responded to the numerous questions surrounding their own behavior." - Salon (April 2008)
- Military Analyst Story 3
"Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found." - The New York Times (April 2008)
- Iraq War 1
"One of the most amazing aspects of this week has been watching network media stars feign shock over the fact that anyone could suggest that they were "deferential, complicit enablers" of the Bush march to war. It's as though they never heard anyone ever suggest such a thing until George Bush's own Press Secretary mocked them for being meek, uncritical disseminators of government propaganda, and now -- they seem to want to convey -- they're just so confused and astonished that anyone could possibly think that about them." - Salon (May 2008)
- Iraq War 2
"The arc of our country and its media: from David Halberstam's confrontation with a U.S. General in Vietnam over his demands to investigate (rather than mindlessly accept) the Pentagon's war claims to Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams sitting around giggling on TV with Matt Lauer and muttering about what a great job they did in covering the administration's march to invade Iraq..." - Salon (May 2008)
- Iraq War 3
"If you step back and survey the totality of media's performance this summer on the Iraq debate, it becomes a good deal clearer just how awful it's all been -- and just how complicit these failings were in helping to shift the debate" - Talking Points Memo (Sept 2007)
TV News - Examples
- Santa Claus
"The mainstream media is made up of gigantic corporations. Like all corporations, they manufacture a product, which is their audience. They sell this product to their customers, which are other huge corporations.
Informing people about the world is not just irrelevant to the purpose of making money, but in many ways actually HURTS a corporation's profitability. No business goes out of its way to piss off its owners and customers. Now, obviously it's true you hear constantly about the media's Unending Fight For Truth. But you also hear constantly that a fat man wearing a red suit breaks into America's homes at the end of each year to distribute new X-boxes. Neither of these things is real. " - A Tiny Revolution (Oct 2005)
"Notice a pattern? Aside from Andrea Mitchell's crack about Virginia, which was offensive in a nonpartisan way, every one of the apologies has been about an offensive remark aimed at a Democrat. Funny, that." - The Washington Monthly (June 2008)
- Sophomoric Taunting
"GOP gets a thumpin', and media revive their substance-free, sophomoric taunting ... of Democrats" - Media Matters (Nov 2006)
"It may seem absurd, but Democrats can control the White House, House, and Senate, but it's Republicans who have the edge on the megaphone gap." - The Washington Monthly (Jan 2010)
"However, CBS probably violated its own rules (Standards and Practice) by altering the video of Katie Couric's interview with McCain that left out his major blunder on this issue and then broadcast it on our airwaves." - Crooks & Liars (July 2008)
- Broken Media 1
"It's so illustrative of the problems with our corporate media that the guy who wins a Pulitzer prize for investigative reporting is ignored - because he was investigating the corporate media for stacking the deck with paid sources to support the Iraq war" - Crooks & Liars (April 2009)
- Broken Media 2
"This week, Jay Rosen -- the NYU Journalism Professor and author of the PressThink blog -- wrote one of the best and most insightful pieces yet on how the American media artificially limits the range of political debate." - Salon (Jan 2009)
"Rachel Maddow highlights some of the points Bernie Sanders attempted to make during his 8-1/2-hour long speech on the Senate floor that most of our Beltway media have chosen to ignore, like just who benefits and how much from lowering the estate tax for billionaires. Rachel is exactly right about the media doing their best to ignore all of what Sen. Sanders had to say in his speech and not just the points he made about the estate tax. He got very little coverage and what coverage he did get showed him up there speaking while some talking head gave their opinion about what was going on instead of allowing viewers to actually hear what he was coming out of his mouth instead of theirs." - Crooks & Liars (Dec 2010)
"Not surprisingly, Roll Call found, “If you were watching the major Sunday morning talk shows last year, your odds of seeing a Republican Member of Congress in the guest chair were far greater than seeing a Democratic Member of Congress.”" - Washington Monthly (Jan 2012)