What is the propaganda model and how does it work? Its crucial structural factors derive from the fac…

What is the propaganda model and how does it work? Its crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or other companies); and they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit-seeking entities, and who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media also lean heavily on government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and, frequently, overlapping interests, cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media, and other corporate businesses. Government and large nonmedia business firms are also best positioned (and sufficiently wealthy) to be able to pressure the media with threats of withdrawal of advertising or TV licenses, libel suits, and other direct and indirect modes of attack. The media are also constrained by the dominant ideology, which heavily featured anticommunism before and during the Cold War era, and was mobilized often to induce the media to support (or refrain from criticizing) U.S. attacks on small states that were labeled communist. These factors are linked together, reflecting the multileveled capability of government and powerful business entities and collectives (e.g., the Business Roundtable; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the vast number of well-heeled industry lobbies and front groups) to exert power over the flow of information. We noted that the five factors involved – ownership, advertising, sourcing, flak, and anticommunist ideology – work as ‘filters’ through which information must pass, and that individually and often in additive fashion they greatly influence media choices. We stressed that the filters work mainly by the independent action of many individuals and organizations; and these frequently, but not always, have a common view of issues and similar interests. In short, the propaganda model describes a decentralized and nonconspiratorial market system of control and processing, although at times the government or one or more private actors may take initiatives and mobilize coordinated elite handling of an issue.

Leave a comment