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Manufacturing Consent

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

By Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
18-minute read
Audio available
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored. 

It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.

  • Anyone who wants to know who sets the agenda of the mass media
  • Anyone who would like to know whose interests the media serve
  • Anyone who wants to understand why the mass media suppress independent voices

Edward S. Herman is an academic specialising in finance who has written many works on political economy and the media.

Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned expert in the fields of linguistics and global political culture. He is best known for his criticisms of globalisation, American power and the mass media. He has authored numerous publications including Hegemony or Survival and Deterring Democracy.

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Manufacturing Consent

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

By Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
Synopsis

Manufacturing Consent (1988) takes a critical view of the mass media to ask why only a narrow range of opinions are favored whilst others are suppressed or ignored. 

It formulates a propaganda model which shows how alternative and independent information is filtered out by various financial and political factors allowing the news agenda to be dominated by those working on behalf of the wealthy and powerful. Far from being a free press, the media in fact maintain our unequal and unfair society.

Key idea 1 of 12

The media play a vital role in indoctrinating people to accept an unequal society.

The media have many roles; it is the media’s job to inform us, entertain us and to amuse us. But the mass media have an additional vital task: the promotion of shared social values and codes of behavior. The government and ruling institutions need an outlet to ‘educate’ the general population with their ideals, and the mass media fulfill this role.

As society is massively unequal in terms of wealth and power, the media’s defense of the status quo is actually a defense of the interests of the dominant elite, ensuring that their politically and economically powerful positions are maintained. The media must therefore slant their coverage to produce stories that support the ruling political and economic classes: a tiny community of people who sit at the top of society.

In their role of defending the social hierarchies, the media effectively create propaganda backing the ruling classes.

The mass media often proudly proclaim that they produce objective and trustworthy coverage whilst holding the powerful to account; the coverage of the Vietnam War is often used as an example. In reality, the media have no interest in defending the public interest against the wealthy and powerful. Instead, they protect the rights and privileges of the ruling elites by reporting events through a narrow, biased lens. This ensures that audiences accept their position in the unequal and unfair structure of society.  

The media play a vital role in indoctrinating people to accept an unequal society.

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