There are many ways in which information, ideas and news can be imparted to and within society. Propaganda is a manner of communication that spreads particular ideas throughout society and employs manipulation to persuade individuals and groups to adopt given principles and to subsequently align their behaviour with them. The Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia says that the propagandist will “emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasize or exclude those that do not.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2011: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/478875/propaganda)
EFFECT ON CITIZENS
The promulgation of one-sided messages seldom serves the common interests of communities, provinces or nation-states. Propaganda, in most instances benefits a particular organization, governing body or functioning entity rather than the individual groups to which it is aimed. (Nicotra 2009: 331) Ultimately, overt verbal and non-verbal audience responses, attitudes and behavioural patterns regarding such forms of action as voting; joining organizations; fighting for causes and so on are altered to fulfil the objectives of the propagandist. (Jowett 1992: 34)
MEDIA’S ROLE REGARDING PROPAGANDA
The media is the primary medium through which propaganda is propagated. Between the late 19th and 20th centuries the world experienced an explosion in mass communication that saw an increase in the efficient dissemination of information flows across geographical distances. (Jowett 1992: 79)
In the mid-1930s, the word in the air (literally, thanks to the advent of radio)—as well as in the papers, weekly news magazines, and academic journals alike—was ‘‘propaganda.’’ (Burton 2009: 91)
The war against terror that America and Britain has declared has been justified by their claims that Iraq is a threat to the world. The civilians of the world’s countries have been sceptical about the validity of these claims therefore, “The challenge, for these two countries, has been to wage and win a propaganda war to convince citizens that action is needed urgently.” (Global Issues 2003: http://www.globalissues.org/article/400/media-propaganda-and-iraq) This would be impossible without the mass media as means to this end.
PROPAGANDA’S MOST EFFECTIVE MEDIUM
The most effective medium through which propaganda can be disseminated is radio, through short- and medium wave broadcasting.
Despite the inroads made by television viewing in leisure-time activities in most industrial countries, there is no indication of any decline in the use of radio…and large sums of money are spent on the worldwide dissemination of information from a variety of political ideologies. (Jowett 1992: 101)
Radio transmitted messages are short, simple and usually available in the preferred language of the listener. For these reasons, the intake of audio information require very little or no participation and effort from audiences and makes for more effective absorption and internalization of information. Contrary to what one might think or opine before appropriate research of the question: “television, electronic tape recordings, and sound motion pictures are [only] the second most effective means of communication available” (Psywarrior: http://www.psywarrior.com/FM33-1.html)
21st CENTURY PROPAGADA
There has been an unprecedented increase in the diffusion and use of unqualified propaganda in the 21st century. We can see this in the way that the United States of America constantly bombards us with images and sounds that promote views that the Arabs are the enemy of the world and that it is up to America to annihilate this enemy. America used propaganda in the form of a reaction to the events of September 11to justify its pursuit of Iran; while sceptics would opine that the real reason behind the US’s attack on Iran is it’s pursuit of the oil in Iran. The events of September 11 were a perfect excuse to hide behind because Americans wanted justice to be served for the losses that occurred because of the terrorist attack on the twin towers. The world was in shock and could easily be fooled to sympathise with America rather than see through its true selfish intentions for the acquiring and retention of their own wealth. Furthermore,
Given that the United States is the sole superpower, few, if any, adversaries will attempt to fight the US military conventionally on the battlefield. Therefore, adversaries will use propaganda and deception, especially altered images, in an attempt to level the battlefield or to win a war against the United States without even having to fight militarily.
So, in conclusion, propaganda is still used today and will be used more in the future.
- Burton, St. John III. 2009. ‘Journalism’s Counterinsurgency against “Free Space”: The ANPA Publicity Bulletin’, Journalism History, Vol 35, pp. 92-97.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 2011. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/478875/propaganda [Accessed 1 March 2010]
- Global Issues. 2003. http://www.globalissues.org/article/400/media-propaganda-and-iraq [Accessed 5 March 2010]
- Jowett, Garth S. 1992. Propaganda and Persuasion. United States of America: SAGE Publications.
- Nicotra, J. 2009. ‘Dancing Attitudes in Wartime: Kenneth Burke and General Semantics’, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol 29, October, pp. 331-352.
- Psywarrior. 2003. http://www.psywarrior.com/FM33-1.html [Accessed 01 March 2011]