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Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Narrated by John Pruden


Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Narrated by John Pruden

ratings:
4.5/5 (45 ratings)
Length:
15 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 18, 2017
ISBN:
9781541471870
Format:
Audiobook

Description

In this pathbreaking work, now with a new introduction, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Based on a series of case studies-including the media's dichotomous treatment of "worthy" versus "unworthy" victims, "legitimizing" and "meaningless" Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina-Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the media's behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications.
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 18, 2017
ISBN:
9781541471870
Format:
Audiobook


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What people think about Manufacturing Consent

4.6
45 ratings / 14 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Didn't tell me anything about the general behavior of American news media that I didn't already know just from watching them myself and/or reading Greenwald's column, but I did learn a bunch of (horrible) stuff about our role in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • (5/5)
    Rarely have I read something that so completely shifted my social paradigms.
  • (5/5)
    This is an eye-opening critique of the American mass media. Chomsky asserts that media select what to mention and what not to mention in order to reflect the interests of what he calls the "buyer, the seller, and the product." In his propaganda model, the buyer is not the consumer, rather, the "buyer" is the advertiser who pays for the newspaper, and the mass media generally. The "seller" is of course the news organization itself. The "product" is the audience itself. The interests of these groups will be reflected, and anything repugnant to this view, sans a few exceptions, will be excluded somewhere along the way by the "filters." It is a true institutional analysis of the mass media, not a conspiracy theory about media bias. Whether the media are liberal or conservative, the media work within the "framework of assumptions" and favored doctrines. This framework is exemplified in his other works where he discusses how even the harshest liberal doves actually reinforce militarism and state power through their narrow, tactical criticism.This is a must read.
  • (5/5)
    Highly recommended a solidly built thesis of Chomsky's Propaganda model and how it exposes anti-left war against all groups and states seeking to democratically espouse a socialist true left position.
  • (5/5)
    This book will teach you to think of the media in a whole new way.
  • (5/5)
    A nuanced critique of the media and it's role as propaganda in the United States. Anyone who regularly follows American news should have to read this. It'll completely change the way you read the news.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Noam Chomsky is quite possibly the most intelligent man alive (this is being written after Stephen Hawking's death and noting that there are probably more intelligent women around but the media ignores them), and "Manufacturing Consent" covers his life and belief that the media is to blame for much of which ails the earth. This is a well written polemic that points out times the mainstream media has twisted the truth or not covered at all. Of course, being a polemic means there is little nuance involved. Hermann and Chomsky are preaching to the converted, and while I agreed with them far more than disagreed, the preaching did grate after a while.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    If you think there's a huge, overwhelming right wing conspiracy out there, then this is the book for you. If you've a sceptical bone in your body, consider spending your money somewhere else. This book is one part theory, five parts anecdotal evidence judiciously selected by the authors in support of their theory. Anecdotal evidence has next to no intellectual value when used to support generalisations of the sort made by Messrs Herman and Chomsky. In buying this book I was principally interested in Chomsky and Herman's arguments, which are set out in the first chapter and a half of the book. They are conveniently set out on page 2, and I can further summarise them: Before being published, all news in America is run (consiously or subconsciously) through the following five "filters": 1: The size, concentrated ownership and profit orientation of the Mass Media: economic barriers to entry into the media market are high, the class of media organisations is small, concentrated and cross-owned, and all media owners are driven by profit: that is, they have to print something that will sell. A less conspiracy-laden rendering of that assertion is this: if you publish something the public think is a load of rubbish, you'll go bust. 2: Advertising as a main source of income for print media. Messrs Chomsky and Herman believe it isn't so much "what will sell" as "what is will be agreeble to advertisers" which is important. They clearly think these two concepts are substantially different, but they provide no arguments at all to support that conjecture, except a single (anecdotal) instance of the failure of an apparently widely read socialist worker's paper which, for all we know, could have gone bust for any number of reasons (for example, the arrival of another, better newspaper in the market, or that its readership began to think it was publishing a pile of rubbish). 3: The reliance of the media on information provided or sponsored by government, business and other "agents of power". 4: Public and official complaint on press content as a way of disciplining the media; and 5: Anti-communism as a national religion and control mechanism. Filter 1 has been largely eroded by this wonderful thing called the internet that has evolved since Manufacturing Consent was written. Now anyone can publish; thanks to (er... multinational corporations like) Google, anyone's views (even mine!) can be readily accessed, for better of for worse. The profit motive remains, but I don't think that having to print what the public wants to read is especially insidious, especially given how much the US public likes poorly conceived conspiracy theories. Nor should Chomsky, since that's what's made him a global superstar! Filters 2 and 4 are pretty unobjectionable, and wouldn't be news to anyone who spent more than a moment reflecting on what the media does in any community. Filter 3 ignores "official sources" includes things like opposition political parties, competing businesses, public interest groups, consumer organisations, and dissident commentators of extraordinarily large pulling power like, well, Noam Chomsky. Filter 5 is comical. No reason is advanced for why anti-communism should be thought of as any more of a filter - let alone a "national religion" than anti-nazism, anti-racism, anti-muslim fundamentalist, pro-NRA, pro-abortion etc etc. The rest of the book comprises anecdotal evidence carefully selected by the authors to support their claims. As mentioned, I don't have much time for anecdotal evidence as a basis for making enormously sweeping generalisations, so I skipped them. Manfacturing Consent was a quick read, therefore. My advice would be to skip the book altogether, in fact.
  • (4/5)
    This work by Herman & Chomsky is a real eye-opener. It was first published in 1988 and now appears deficient with respect to subsequent developments in Cambodia and recent events in the Middle East, but it remains an important examination of the operation of the mass media in the USA.To begin with, the authors develop a model for the US mass media as a propaganda system. They argue that it does not explicitly function as an organised conspiracy, but is overwhelmingly influenced by a set of witting or unwitting filters, which serve to distort and manipulate the delivered message.Herman & Chomsky then go on to test their model by exploring a series of case studies where the filters are likely to have the greatest effect. As expected, these case studies (which include the US intervention in Central America and Indochina) provide clear support for the propaganda model.This book is not intended to be a history of the case study areas. Nor should it be, else it would be bigger and more unwieldy than would serve the intended purpose. However, a lot of assumed knowledge makes the work less accessible and occasionally confusing, particularly concerning the conflict in Cambodia.While the book is mostly written in an appropriately neutral and scholarly tone, there are times when the authors allow themselves to stray into emotive territory. This is perhaps irresistible, due to the outrageous nature of US militarism in the examined areas, but it has a tendency to diminish the authoritative style required for such a thesis.There are also frequent moments of repetition, perhaps with the intention of emphasising key points. Yet this, combined with the concern above, causes the authors to sometimes appear rather condescending or even a little sensationalist, like the mass media they are examining.However, these concerns do little to detract from what is an entirely credible and robust study of the US mass media. Moreover, the lens of the propaganda model delivers a brutal exposure of cynicism and chauvinism in US foreign policy, especially in relation to ‘client’ states and the ‘defense of democracy’.For a lesson in viewing the messages delivered by the mass media with critical thought and skepticism, Manufacturing Consent is a very important work.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    One of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's more substantial written contributions, Manufacturing Consent details a framework dubbed the "propaganda model," which can determine or explain many factors of media reporting found deficient, biased, or just plain incompetent. I found this book to be a poignant and effective review of a period in which media was supposedly keeping an "adversarial stance" towards those in power -- while the contrary continued to be the case.Even for those who do not believe in the "propaganda model" as explained by the authors, Manufacturing Consent remains an important work for pointing out many circumstances of media bias and societal constraint during the turbulent times of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. For those who understand the model to be a reliable framework for viewing the behaviour of the media, it is easy to find many circumstances of institutional malfeasance throughout recent decades and up to the current day. For example, while the anti-communist filter, as mentioned, has evolved somewhat into being a general "anti-socialist" dogmatic brick wall, it continues to show itself in media across the spectrum, notably at outlets like Fox News.I found the principles outlined by the authors described very well and backed with an exhaustive investigation of evidence, in all circumstances evaluated. Furthermore, the book's framework continues to show its relevance. Even though the rise of the internet has 'cracked' corporate media's grip, it still holds fast, as the vast majority of news consumed around the world is produced by corporate media. The version with the updated acknowledgement includes additional information to keep the text relevant in the modern day, including references to internet use, media consolidation and additional examples of the model's effectiveness.For these reasons, the book is a very compelling read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in broadening their knowledge of how their world really works.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    With the recent growth of the PR industry, Manufacturing Consent is even more important now than it was when first published in 1988.Chomsky has repeated many times that the propaganda model of the West does not require a conspiracy. This book is a thorough - and thoroughly brilliant - explanation of how it is simply an emergent property of free markets.Although Ed Herman receives authorial first billing, this reads like a Chomsky book, like an academic work. That is, it is packed with documented evidence for their claims. If you are unfamiliar with the tone of Chomsky's writing or find the density of the information provided daunting, it may be a bit of a chore to read. In this case I suggest first reading the intro and the first and last chapters, then going on to the bulk of the book (chapters 2-6) if you like.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    One of the founding motives of the United States was that it didn't and doesn't care about the rights of brown or red people. The silly British tried to respect the treaties with the natives in contrast to the Americans' god-given right to Western expansion. The big fault of Chomsky's book is his idealism, the faulty assumption that Americans care what their Buffalo soldiers do in places far away. They don't.Firstly, caring would demand some minimal knowledge about geography and history. Even after a decade of war, most Americans would probably not be able to correctly identify Afghanistan or Iraq on a world map. Neither could they point out Guatemala or Laos. That the New York Times doesn't cover or relegate events is to a large extent due to customer demand. Americans prefer cheap, salty, fat and saccharine fast food not ugly stories about massacres and bad deeds from far-away places. The dis-intermediation of the media industry has shown that "news" is a poor business, even a loss leader.Given the cost of reporting and the low demand on the one hand and the corporate ownership of the US media on the other, it is hardly surprising that US news is vastly different from what is served in other advanced countries. Cat pictures attract much more views at much lower cost. While Chomsky's explanation is fine, it is overly complex.For this anniversary edition, Chomsky and co. revisited whether their cases presented held up: Depressingly, they passed with flying colors. The reality uncovered was in most cases even more damning. More helpful, though, would have been a look at the media in other countries. Just like commercial TV stations in European countries survive and prosper with vastly fewer ads and interruptions, the US could have a much more healthy media structure.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    The classic elucidation of the propaganda system. A must read for anyone interesting in understanding how propaganda in free societies works.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    An absolutely brilliant analysis of the ways in which individuals and organizations of the media are influenced to shape the social agendas of knowledge and, therefore, belief. Contrary to the popular conception of members of the press as hard-bitten realists doggedly pursuing unpopular truths, Herman and Chomsky prove conclusively that the free-market economics model of media leads inevitably to normative and narrow reporting.

    1 person found this helpful