Propaganda Model Discussion Essay

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Propaganda Model Discussion Essay


The Chomsky-Herman propaganda model asserts that there are five categories of “filters” within the society that determine where the filters determine what is printed within newspapers or broadcasted by television and radio. Likewise, the propaganda model explicates how dissent from the mainstream gets little or no news coverage, whereas big corporate, businesses and governments get news coverage by being able to easily access the public in order to convey their messages (Klaehn & Mullen, 2010). This essay focuses on critically analyzing how the propaganda model provides an approach to understand and study media power.

According to Herman & Chomsky (2004) five aspects involved include ownership, advertisements, media news sourcing, flak as well as anticommunist philosophy and also these aspects function as “filters” by which information should pass through, and that independently and regularly in additive fashion they play a big role in shaping media choices (Edgley, 2009). Basically, these filters function primarily through the independent actions of numerous people and companies that in most cases share a similar perception of matters and common interests as well. This therefore demonstrates that the propaganda model illustrates a concentrated and conspiratorial market structure of control and information processing, where the government or the business firms might take initiative of mobilizing coordinated elite tackling of a matter (Corner, 2003).

At its core, the propaganda model stresses that the influential members of the society determine what topics, matters and events that should be deemed “newsworthy” by lower-tier-media with the aim of serving the interests of the dominant and elite society members. The model also implies that since the mainstream media is also an elite institution, the media usually frame news and facilitate debates only within the parameters of elite interests (Herman & Chomsky, 2004). In addition, where the elite is in reality unified and has genuine concern or where ordinary society members are not aware of their own stake in a matter or are halted by effective propaganda, the media serves the interests of the elites without having been compromised in any way (Edgley, 2009). For example, the business corporate maybe be involved in shoddy business deals that might be news worthy but the media cannot broadcast such news because the business people own these media stations. Obviously, the owners of the newspaper, television or radio stations cannot happily allow the media stations to criticize systematically the “free market” capitalism which is the source of their wealth (Pedro, 2011).

The dominant media are tightly ingrained within the market system. Generally, the media stations are profit-seeking business and are extremely rich individuals or corporate own the media stations. The media are mainly financed by advertisers whose main aim is to seek profits too and also want their advertisements to feature within a supportive selling setting (Klaehn & Mullen, 2010). Media stations have to attract and sustain a high percentage of advertisements to be able to cover their productions costs; without these advertisements, it would be difficult for media to survive in the market place. Many media stations are in stiff competition to attract advertisements and inability to attract the advertisements can have a detrimental effect on the media station’s revenue and thus for media to survive, they have to hone themselves into an advertiser-friendly medium which means the media is compelled consider their business interests (Herman & Chomsky, 2004).

In regard to sourcing of media news, as Herman & Chomsky (2004) explain the media has a symbiotic relationship with influential sources of news through economic obligation and reciprocity of interest. Generally, the media depends on government as well as major business companies as sources of information and news, as well as efficacy and political considerations, and regularly related interests, cause major media, government, along with other businesses to have some level of solidarity (Danesi, 2008). Additionally, government and big business organizations are adequately wealthy and also at best position to pressurize the media to function according to what they want for instance by threatening the media on withdrawing advertisements or their licenses, libel suits among other indirect and direct forms of attack (Herman & Chomsky, 2004). For instance, government, business entities and trade unions are key sources of information that media considers newsworthy. Therefore, if an event a media station offends such influential news sources, maybe through inquiring the authenticity or predisposition of furnished material, might be threatened of being denied any access to the organization’s newsworthy stories. Such situations compel media to air or write news that best suits the wealthy and influential members/institutions of the society (Klaehn & Mullen, 2010).

Flak is another factor that plays a role in determining media news and this refers to the negative reception to media news or programs. The negative response might entail phone calls, petitions, threats or any other form of punitive actions against media for maybe airing or writing some stories that the media may deem newsworthy (Berry, 2010). In most cases, business firms, governments or the influential society members are the flak machines. For example, a business firm or a government might threaten to sue a media station for airing some negative story about them. Similarly, a powerful politician may file a suit against media if they aired news or wrote a news article about politician and he/she does not like it (Danesi, 2008). Worse still, the government, business entities or even the powerful society members may threaten the media of taking actions against them such as influencing the withdrawal of their signals or licenses or wage other similar wars which might injure the media survival. Therefore, the media ends up reporting news that are not likely to annoy the government, business entities and powerful society members and in such a manner, the elite gets to influence the type of news that the media reports (Carruthers, 1995).

Another thing is that the media are also restrained by the dominant philosophy, which deeply featured anticommunism prior and during the Cold War period and was mustered regularly to hinder the media from attacking and criticizing small states labeled socialist. On the other hand, the media is propelled to broadcast news that fit the interests of the powerful societal elements (Pedro, 2011). For example, while the media might not adequately report or air the atrocities done by the world’s super powers, the media is quick to popularize and report news on individuals that the super powers deem as enemies (Carey, 1995). Good examples include Colonel Gaddafi and Slobodan Milosevic who greatly featured in the news and were depicted as evil where they often featured the British tabloid headlines calling for their suppression. Demonizing enemies is important and even fundamental in regard to the justification of strategic geopolitical scheming and defending of corporate interests worldwide, whereas pacifying home-based critics of such actions (Domhoff, 1979).

These aspects are interconnected and reflect the multi-leveled ability of influential society members, powerful business entities and governmental bodies and collectives such as industry lobbies and lobby groups to have power to control the flow of information and hence influence the news that media broadcasts or publishes (Berry, 2010).


The propaganda model illustrates how social, economic and political power influences the media power where the political and socio-economic power is used in intersecting with communicative power to determine the type of news that the media reports. The societal elite influence the media by directly or indirectly controlling the media. For example, the elite own the media stations and hence they would not allow news against them to be reported by their own media stations and also the government or the elite may threaten the media against airing some news failure to which they could encounter detrimental actions such as their licenses being withdrawn. Similarly, the propaganda model also suggests that since the media itself is an elite institution, the media is inclined to frame news and only allow issues that are within the parameters of the elites’ interests.


Berry, D., 2010, Radical Mass Media Criticism, History and Theory,’ in Jeffery Klaehn (ed.). The Political Economy of Media and Power, New York: Peter Lang.

Corner, J., 2003, Debate: The Model in Question: A Response to Klaehn on Herman and Chomsky, European Journal of Communication, 18(3): 367-375.

Carey, A, 1995, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, Sydney NSW, Australia: University of New South Wales Press.

Carruthers, S, 1995, Winning Hearts and Minds: British Governments, the Media and Counterinsurgency, 1944-1960, London: Leicester University Press.

Danesi, M, 2008, Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives, New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

Domhoff, W, 1979, The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America, New York: Vintage Books.

Edgley, A, 2009, Manufacturing Consistency: Social Science, Rhetoric and Chomsky’s Critique,’ Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, (6)2, pp. 23-42.Herman, E & Chomsky, N., 2004, Reply to Kurt and Gladys Engel Lang, Political Communication, 21(1) 103-107.

Klaehn , J & Mullen, A., 2010, The Propaganda Model and Sociology: Understanding the Media and Society, Autumn, 1(1).

Pedro, J., 2011, The Propaganda Model in the Early 21st Century Part II, International Journal of Communication, 5 (2), 1906-1926.