Modern democracies have traditionally been critical of countries with state controlled bureaucracies and censorship. It is much harder to see propaganda systems at work where state controlled censorship is absent. In this section we introduce the work of Herman and Chomsky to investigate the challenges of propaganda through mass media in democratic systems.


Manufacturing consent

Noam Chomsky, former Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was a linguist. philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian and social critic. In 1988, Chomsky co-authored with Edward Herman a seminal book: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media in which they outlined a propaganda model for understanding mainstream media and identified five filters of editorial bias. The following video published by Al Jazeera summarises the concept of manufacturing consent.

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Annotation - A propaganda model

This annotation activity is based on “A propaganda Model” by Herman and Chomsky, excerpted from Manufacturing Consent, 1988. A few key questions have been posted as prompts for discussion.
To explore examples of the five filters of editorial bias and to reflect on the impact for society.



Manufacturing consent in the age of the Internet

Manufacturing Consent was published before the Internet became mainstream. Consequently, we need to reflect on whether Chomsky’s ideas still hold true in a digital world. Watch this short interview with Chomsky published by the Sydney Opera House Talks and Ideas in 2013.

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Over to you: Do you think that the notion of manufacturing consent is still a major issue in today’s world where social media and citizen journalism provides agency for citizens to express their views more easily on the Internet? Share your thoughts by posting a comment on WENotes, for example:

  • Manufacturing consent is less relevant in the internet age because …
  • Manufacturing consent is more relevant in the digital age because …