All of these points are from Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.
First off, it is difficult to identify propaganda in a private media with no formal censorship.
Because the media is so filtered, the journalists feel they are objectively presenting the news.
In summay, the dominant media firms are quite large businesses; they are controlled by very wealthy people or by managers who are subject to sharp constraints by owners and other market-profit-oriented forces;40 and they are closely interlocked, and have important common interests, with other major corporations, banks, and government. This is the first powerful filter that will affect news choices.
Obviously, the wealthy owners of the media want to maintain the status quo. They are also more likely to have close relationships with the mainstream of corporate America by serving on boards of directors and other social links.
The media has a dependency on the government.
The radio-TV companies and networks all require government licenses and franchises and are thus potentially subject to government control or harassment. This technical legal dependency has been used as a club to discipline the media, and media policies that stray too often from an establishment orientation could activate this threat.
The media also depends on the government for daily content.
Without advertisers, newspapers ceased to be economically viable. Before advertising became the major deciding factor in a newspaper’s success, it was a free market where the public had the choice to buy or not. Advertising changed the game. Their ads helped offset the costs of the paper. Thus, a paper used to cost a couple dollars before advertising. With ads, the paper could sell for much cheaper. If a newspaper had trouble getting advertisers, it would be forced to sell the paper for a loss or continue selling it for a couple of dollars.
The media (and advertisers) prefer an audience with buying power.
The idea that the drive for large audiences makes the mass media “democratic” thus suffers from the initial weakness that its political analogue is a voting system weighted by income! The power of advertisers over television programming stems from the simple fact that they buy and pay for the programs—they are the “patrons” who provide the media subsidy.
Therefore, it is unlikely that corporations would support a television program critical of the corporate world.
With the rise in the price of advertising spots, the forgone revenue increases; and with increasing market pressure for financial performance and the diminishing constraints from regulation, an advertising-based media system will gradually increase advertising time and marginalize or eliminate altogether programming that has significant public-affairs content.58 Advertisers will want, more generally, to avoid programs with serious complexities and disturbing controversies that interfere with the “buying mood.” They seek programs that will lightly entertain and thus fit in with the spirit of the primary purpose of program purchases—the dissemination of a selling message.
The media likes these powerful official sources of information because it is seen as being objective. It is also an inexpensive source since it is already considered credible by the public. Thus, there is no fact checking or research to do in order to verify the source. When you have a source that is not presumed credible, you must do more work to verify the information to protect yourself from criticism and threats.
The government and large corporations have huge public information operations that serve as primary sources for the media and allows them special access.
In effect, the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring the raw materials of, and producing, news.
This close relationship with the media allows the powerful to coerce the media through personal relationships, threats, or rewards.
It is very difficult to call authorities on whom one depends for daily news liars, even if they tell whoppers. Critical sources may be avoided not only because of their lesser availability and higher cost of establishing credibility, but also because the primary sources may be offended and may even threaten the media using them.
These corporations also try to shape the public debate by hiring “experts” that are behind the desired message. The corporation may establish a think tank to hire the “expert” and disseminate such messages
Back in 1972, Judge Lewis Powell (later elevated to the Supreme Court) wrote a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urging business “to buy the top academic reputations in the country to add credibility to corporate studies and give business a stronger voice on the campuses.”90 One buys them, and assures that—in the words of Dr. Edwin Feulner, of the Heritage Foundation—the public-policy area “is awash with in-depth academic studies” that have the proper conclusions.
The corporate funding and clear ideological slant of these experts does not seem to make them any less credible to the media. In many cases, it catapults them into the press.
to be continued….