Manufacturing Consent. The Self-Censorship Of Media

Manufacturing Consent. The Self-Censorship Of Media


In this video, I will discuss how flak causes
the media to self-censor and how this forms a filter regarding which news is published. Journalists may hide the facts, censor information
and fail to research sensitive issues. In a survey of nearly 300 journalists
and news executives in the United States undertaken by the Pew Research Center and
the Columbia Journalism Review, some 25% of the journalists reported having
“purposely avoided newsworthy stories”, while nearly as many admit having “softened
the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organisations”.
The research identifies commercial and/or competitive forces as reasons for self-censorship.
The study also shows how conflict with organisational interests was an important
motivator for self-censorship, with 35% reporting that stories that might damage
the economic interests of the media entity are often or sometimes unreported. Twenty-nine
per cent claimed the same about stories that would damage the interests
of advertisers. In addition, articles critical of Israel are
sanitised or fail to see publication in the press, often because of their fear and concern
around flak from the Israel lobby. Jonathan Cook suggests fear of flak was a primary reason
for The Guardian deciding against publishing his article about Israel’s chief state pathologist,
Yehuda Hiss’s link to repeated unauthorised removals of organs, black-market organ sales,
and around allegations that the Israeli army were possibly supplying Arab corpses for organ
harvesting. Cook’s article speculated on what measures are in place or could be put
in place to ensure accountability, particularly under a system of occupation. Flak can involve governments withdrawing access
to interviews or press conferences to reporters and media outlets which drift in their questioning
on politicians from the desired narrative. Veteran broadcaster John Humphrys has claimed
Tony Blair’s government threatened to stop co-operating with flagship radio show Today
if the BBC did not ‘deal with’ him. He said an interview with the then social
security secretary Harriet Harman had prompted the unprecedented response from the New Labour
leadership. ‘It was a letter threatening to withdraw co-operation
from BBC Today unless something was done about what they called the “John Humphrys problem”.
There have also been calls for the Russian broadcaster RT to be banned in the UK because
of bias. Now, I’m not saying that RT is unbiased but as shown in some of my other
videos, the BBC too has been proven in research studies to be biased, especially in times
of war, the Iraq war especially being well researched.
Russia Today has been threatened with statutory sanctions by media regulator Ofcom after the
Kremlin-backed news channel breached broadcasting regulations on impartiality with its coverage
of the Ukraine crisis. Ofcom said all news must be presented with
“due impartiality … in particular, when reporting on matters of major political controversy”.
This despite the fact that The BBC was accused of a cover-up after spending almost £350,000
on a legal battle to suppress an internal report about bias in its Middle East coverage.
A seven-year campaign to gain access to the 2004 document, which examined the corporation’s
coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ended in defeat after the Supreme Court ruled
it could remain secret. A recent article by Jane Merrick in The Guardian
highlights former Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon’s aggressive and inappropriate sexual
behaviour towards her during her time as a political reporter for the Daily Mail. Written
by the former Political Editor for the Independent on Sunday, the article also serves as a perfect
example of how the propaganda model works in practice to dictate an elite-friendly output
via fears of reprisals from much needed sources. In it, she writes:
“At the time, I was a 29-year-old junior political reporter at the Daily Mail. He was
a Conservative backbencher in his 50s and, as a member of the Treasury select committee
and a former minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, a useful contact to take out
for lunch. As a political journalist, I went out for lunch with MPs as often as three times
a week. It was part of the job.” “I did not report Fallon to the Conservative
whips, because I — as someone who had only been in the lobby for two years — was
worried I would be blacklisted as untrustworthy. In Westminster, where power and loyalties
are hard currency, I feared making enemies” “He had violated what should have been a
healthy working relationship, turning it into something seedy and unpleasant.” Of course, Fallon’s alleged behaviour is
absolutely newsworthy. But so too are the implications of Merrick’s disclosures about
journalism and how a model too reliant on access from official sources for information
and too chummy with those sources cannot be trusted to call power to question when it
needs to be. There was an opportunity to keep power in check that had arisen fourteen years
earlier, but fear of losing access or being tarnished as not trustworthy enough to be
provide selected titbits from politicians and other insiders, was a significant factor
that resulted in Fallon climbing up the political ladder unscathed by his behaviour. Finally corporations play the game although
they mainly fall under the filter of advertisements. For example the Guardian faced a series of
allegations from insiders over its relationship with advertisers, including suggestions that
it changed an article on Iraq amid concerns that Apple would object. Here were just some examples of how the media
is fearful of offending sources and advertisers that they choose not to publish unsavoury
articles without any external influence or where a media watchdog will just sanction
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One thought on “Manufacturing Consent. The Self-Censorship Of Media”

  • Mr Tweedy Documentaries says:

    Here are some real examples of how the media can self-censor to avoid flak based on the propaganda model theory by Herman and Chomsky.

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