New Internationalist

Filtering The News

Issue 333

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Global Media / VISUAL

Filtering the news

How news can get distorted - not by conspiracy but by the structures of the media itself.
Adapted from Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman's 'Propaganda Model' in their book Manufacturing Consent.

Illustration by POLYP

‘If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours my occupation would be gone. The business of a journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press... Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.’

John Swinton of the New York Times toasting his profession before the
New York Press Club in 1953, quoted by

[image, unknown] 1st Filter –
Business interests of owner companies

‘You’ve certainly led one of the most extraordinary lives of the 20th century and it’s been entirely of your own making. Can you accept the accolade that you are probably the most remarkable Australian in about 200 years?’

Terry McCrann interviewing Rupert Murdoch in the
Rupert Murdoch-owned Adelaide Sunday Mail

[image, unknown] 2nd Filter –
Selling audiences to advertisers

‘The Coca-Cola company requires that all insertions are placed adjacent to editoral that is consistent with each brand’s marketing strategy... We consider the following subjects to be inappropriate: hard news, sex, diet, political issues, environmental issues... If an appropriate positioning option is not available, we reserve the right to omit our ad from that issue.’

Memo from Coke’s ad agency to magazines.

[image, unknown] 3rd Filter –
Sourcing information from agents of power

‘The most cited economic experts in the international press are from free-market think-tank the Institute for International Economics.’

Mark Laity, former BBC war correspondent, got so close to his sources that he now works for NATO.

‘PR Newswire. The leading source of news from corporations worldwide for media.’

PR Newswire publicity.

[image, unknown] 4th Filter –
Flak, pressure on journalists, and threats of legal action

Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired by Fox TV in Florida over an investigative report on Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone in milk. The General Manager of Fox told them: ‘We paid $3 billion for these television stations, we'll decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is.’

‘The most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the “best” sources.’

Walter Karp of Harpers magazine

[image, unknown]

5th Filter –
Ideological belief in free markets

‘Buy Nothing Day is in opposition to the current economic policy in the United States.’

US news channel CBS rejecting Adbuster’s ‘Buy Nothing Day’ commercial which called for a 24-hour shopping moratorium.

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This article was originally published in issue 333

New Internationalist Magazine issue 333
Issue 333

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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– Emma Thompson –

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