Friday, April 25, 2008

The Government Manipulating the News...hmm, no surprise

As an occasional paid educator, one of my favorite classes to teach is Media's Influence on Society.

The first part of each class begins with a fun quiz designed to create an awareness of how each student is or has been influenced by the media. The results have never failed to shock each individual class member.

Propaganda is not new.

Leni Riefenstahl's film Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) shot at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party is probably the single most famous work of propaganda to date.


In 1942, the American government formed the 18th Air Force Base Unit of the U.S. Army Air Corp, more commonly known as the F.M.P.U. or the First Motion Picture Unit, to create training films, morale films, and propaganda films. The most famous work produced under the F.M.P. U. banner was William Wyler's Memphis Belle: Story of a Flying Fortress. Also in 1942, the government commissioned another famous work, Frank Capra's Why We Fight series.

Governments and corporations, religious and educational institutions, and anything else connected with a desire/need for increase in monetary gain or public acceptance/participation uses some form of progaganda marketing to accomplish their goal.

I wasn't surprised by the recent New York Times article, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand by David Barstow, which is 11 pages of words describing how the Pentagon hired retired military personnel to be used in a campaign to create favorable news about the Bush Administration's wartime actions.

Anyone who has ever watched Jehane Noujaim's award winning documentary, Control Room shouldn't be surprised either.

Disgusted, yes. Surprised, no.

Surprise is when you are taken unaware.

Who could possibly be unaware that the government (doesn't matter which party) has an aggressive propaganda marketing wing?

What I find more interesting than the government's agenda to manipulate the public's way of thinking, is how we, the people respond so casually, and even more interesting, so "non-consequentially" to it.

Have we become so desensitized to the media that we either take it all in and believe it OR reject it and simply go about our business?

The number of American citizens far out numbers the decision makers in the media.

Why do we allow such a small group of individuals such an amazing amount of control influence?

One of the greatest ways the American public could create change is to demand integrity and responsibility from the American news media.

Heck, if just those counted in the Nielsen ratings alone refused to watch any American news program that would be a start!

But, it's more than just turning off your television or turning the channel...

It's also about standing up, speaking out, and demanding change from the news media that will create a weakness in the government's or any other large enterprise's agenda to spin their actions.

As long as we continue to allow a small group of decision makers to act without integrity and responsibility when it comes to the news, then we should not be surprised by our government's ability to manipulate information.

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