Recent reading: Herman & Chomsky

I've been looking at the mass media battles in Venezuela, where the commercial media are overwhelmingly opposed to the government and even participated openly in the short-lived coup of 11-13 April 2002. And so naturally I've been interested in the argument offered here:

Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky (2002).
Manufacturing consent : the political economy of the mass media. New York, Pantheon Books.
Posits a "propaganda model" of U.S. journalism, meaning that it broadly adheres to and promotes "an official agenda" as news passes through 5 "filters": (1) size, concentration & profit orientation of the dominant companies. (2) advertising as primary income source, (3) reliance on government & business-oriented 'experts,' (4) "flak," (5) "'anticommunism' as a national religon and control mechanism." (p. 2) However,

"Certainly, the media's adherence to an official agenda with little dissent is likely to influence public opinion in the desired direction, but this is a matter of degree, and where the public's interests diverge sharply from that of the elite, and where they have their own independent sources of information, the official line may be widely doubted." [xii]

The curious things about the Venezuelan case are (a) that the "official," government line is precisely the opposite of the one that Globovisión, Radio Caracas TV et al. are promoting, and (b) it is the elite who are most opposed to the government. The public's interests do indeed diverge sharply from those of the elite, so it is the anti-official line that is "widely doubted."

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