Saturday, December 03, 2005
War Propaganda or Journalism?
Source: Financial Times, Institute for Propaganda Analysis, Indymedia and others cited in text.
US paying Iraqi press to run favourable stories
By Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi Nov 30 2005 08:16
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
This FT article continues here.
Update 02/12/2005: (via Ted Pease's Word on Journalism)
It may seem strange to suggest that the study of propaganda has relevance to contemporary politics. After all, when most people think about propaganda, they think of the enormous campaigns that were waged by Hitler and Stalin in the 1930s. Since nothing comparable is being disseminated in our society today, many believe that propaganda is no longer an issue.
But propaganda can be as blatant as a swastika or as subtle as a joke. Its persuasive techniques are regularly applied by politicians, advertisers, journalists, radio personalities, and others who are interested in influencing human behavior. Propagandistic messages can be used to accomplish positive social ends, as in campaigns to reduce drunk driving, but they are also used to win elections and to sell malt liquor.
As Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson point out, "every day we are bombarded with one persuasive communication after another. These appeals persuade not through the give-and-take of argument and debate, but through the manipulation of symbols and of our most basic human emotions. For better or worse, ours is an age of propaganda." (Pratkanis and Aronson, 1991)
Update 03/12/2005: (via Sean Madden's iNoodle.com)
A Spinwatch investigation has revealed that journalists working for the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) have been commissioned to provide news reports to the BBC. The BBC has been using these reports as if they were genuine news. In fact, the SSVC is entirely funded by the Ministry of Defence as a propaganda operation, which according to its own website makes a ’considerable contribution’ to the ’morale’ of the armed forces.
In the US, Washington has been rocked by the scandal of fake journalists. The Bush administration has been paying actors to produce news, paying journalists to write propaganda, and paying Republican party members to pose as journalists. In the UK this has been reported with our customary shake of the head at the bizarre nature of US politics and media. Implicitly we are relieved that, however bad things are here, at least we are not as bad as they are.
The article on this Spinwatch investigation continues here.
This post was originally published on Lost in Thought.