Angela Vera: Propaganda Sales Retail

Media globalization cannot be stopped. It is a result of new communications technology. It is also the prerequisite and facilitator for all other forms of globalization. On the other hand, communication itself is conceived as a kind of social practice with societal implications and effects. If we weigh this feature from a responsibility standpoint, the consequences of a barbarian exploitation of such a powerful tool may be extremely deceiving, particularly when it comes to conflict coverage. The media is manipulated in all manners, for example through professional public relations, and covert and overt government propaganda which disseminates propaganda as news. What are often deemed as credible news sources can often knowingly or unknowingly be pushing political agendas and propaganda. The impacts of public relations cannot be underestimated. When it comes to propaganda for purposes of war, professional public relations firms can often be involved to help sell a war. In cases where a war is questionable, the PR firms are indirectly contributing to the eventual and therefore unavoidable casualties. Media management may also be used to promote certain political policies and ideologies and where this is problematic for the citizenry is when media reports on various issues do not attribute their sources properly.
Some techniques used by governments and parties/people with hidden agendas include paying journalists to promote certain issues without the journalist acknowledging this, or make the conflict be covered by young inexperienced journalists, who are more flexible and lack knowledge. The Kosovo War, for example, is one criticized conflict labeled as “a disaster for journalism” (Philip Knightley). In covering the Kosovo War, most media have selected information and sources in relation to the parties in the conflict and their propaganda activities, mostly the “War Parties,” namely the US and NATO. Essential information has been buried in the midst of unimportant facts. Propaganda techniques have been enclosed as part of the warfare and censorship has been adopted as the controlling-mechanism. Disinformation or partial information reported as news or fact without attributing sources that might be questionable, happened to be one of the main weapons used in the Kosovo warfare.

The intention lying behind manipulation is also creating a public opinion, for example to support a war. NATO’s bombing during Kosovo War and the so called “casualties” afterwards, did undergo through such a subjugating process via media, to make them less and less questionable. They hardly ever got questioned during the war. To question facts and sources as a reporter or journalist should do, didn’t happen; as a rational human being should do, didn’t happen either. And the fact that events were somehow ambiguous helped very little. Truth so became the first casualty. Never before has it been so important to have independent, honest voices and sources of information. We are – as a society – inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks. But we should really start analyzing media as critical responsible global citizens.

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Filed under Blogroll, Journalism, Peace Journalism, Politics

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