Mass media is an essential tool for influencing peoples minds. Daily newspapers, magazines, media clips, social network posts are the means of promoting a particular thought or belief among society. Since the very first emergence of media, people have noticed the significance and power of this means, which became a logical reason for them to consider its efficiency and productivity. On the one hand, periodically published articles and uploaded videos help their creators gather a group of same-thinking people and unite them under a single idea. In many cases, it contributes to the formation of a particular social movement which may have a positive effect on the general wellbeing of citizens. On the other hand, mass media means play a negative role because of being manipulated by influential political figures which follow individual interests. Considering the labor crisis in North America, mass media is divided into two different sides, either free from political interest or dependent of it, which determine the further role of the services in regard to providing information about this issue from the different points of view with the aim to manipulate public mind.
As one of the fundamental civil rights, the right for a free press turns out to be violated within a propaganda model. This is an analytical framework which was created with the aim to examine the very essence of the relationship between the US media and institutions or individuals who show direct or indirect relevance to their final product (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky created and presented the propaganda model to the whole world in 1988. They revealed many left intentions of social and political institutions to finance media in purpose to promote their particular ideology and provide it to the public. Significantly, the PM highlights the selection of right-thinking personnel and by the editors’ and working journalists’ internalization of priorities and definitions of newsworthiness that conform to the institution’s policy (Herman & Chomsky, 1988, p. xi). Therefore, the right for free press undergoes a significant modification in terms of media transparency and independence, which emerges as an implicit phenomenon.
In spite of the primary objective of the media to shed light on the truth about daily sociopolitical and cultural events as well as long term conflicts within a country, the press tends to extract a double benefit from it. In particular, information warfare is a common phenomenon of the mass media activity which reflects the confrontation between political players. It is a complex of actions used by the parties opposing each other to achieve specific goals (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). Usually, the purpose of the information warfare is to achieve informational superiority over the enemy and the formation of an information environment that would facilitate the implementation of other, non-informative, political, diplomatic, or economic actions. Depending on its primary purpose, information wars affect the credibility of facts, resources, and technical systems. However, the means and methods of conducting information warfar, according to Martins Five frames, are primarily aimed at the individual and mass consciousness of people in order to change their beliefs, views, values, to cause a suitable mood, for example, fear or panic, and ultimately, to influence behavior (Martin, C. R., 2004). The goal is to affect the consciousness and will of the enemy and use propaganda.
It is imperative to consider the terms propaganda and manipulation which are often used synonymously, but this is not entirely correct. Mainly, propaganda aims to get a particular pattern of behavior: to overdo the indicators in work, to fight for the state or faith, to support the party or government (Campbell, Martin & Fabos, 2011). But there can be things like washing hands before dinner or not using drugs. That is, propaganda may well fit ones interests and needs. Remarkably, it is not always dishonest or harmful to people. And it is not necessarily connected with lies.
Instead, manipulation is already a distortion of information, creating an inadequate picture of the world in a persons head; cultivating artificial needs, which imply what one does not need, but the manipulator makes it vital for them, to make them work in the direction necessary for an interested side (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). The manipulator knows about ones needs and weaknesses, fears and complexes well. They are aware of what and how people say things or how to inspire action. The manipulators will find time and space to achieve their ultimate goals most effectively. In reality, propagandists often resort to manipulations. That is why these words are often treated as synonyms.
In North America, for instance, this tendency may be described in the context of a constant confrontation between the Republican and Democrat Parties. The way these political players confront with one another juxtaposes on the working conditions of a particular magazine editorial or news service. Such a paradigm of the media-politics relations positions the influential figures in the first place and provides them with an unlimited variety of opportunities to affect the public mind (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). At this context, raises the question of how such an independent service like mass media allows itself to fall under the influence of politically interested individuals and groups. The answer is more than clear: money. Undoubtedly, political structures can use it as significant leverage for buying the medias freedom. But this framework is not as simple as it looks. Further meta-analysis will demonstrate it.
Citizens of North America, especially the United States, encounter a critical labor issue for an extended period. The problem of employment and low wage is spread among the low and middle working class, and even former prisoners. Taking the international edition of The Guardian daily newspaper, it can be stated for sure that there is a significant difference between the general description of news and the Opinion rubric, like a shred of direct evidence suggested by Christopher Martin (Campbell, Martin & Fabos, 2011). At the same time, such a pattern is noticeable for other newspapers and magazines which follow different goals by posting articles on particular topics. It is the Opinion rubric which reveals the truth on various events and helps people develop their own perspective on a certain issue. Simultaneously, other rubrics which offer daily news may provide a secondary point of view which satisfies a political interest.
Moving back to the US labor issues, there have been a number of news and opinion articles in The Guardian newspaper regarding the job crisis. The first article published three years ago shed light on the slavery-like working conditions for inmates in the US (Kutsch, 2016). The news piece states that the wage of inmates varies between 12 and 40 cents an hour while prisoners of other states receive zero salaries for their work (Kutsch, 2016). Such discrimination led to the emergence of many strikes which occurred in Alabama and became known as the Free Alabama Movement (Kutsch, 2016). Overall, this piece of news appears to provide a piece of general information about the labor issue amid the inmate employees. At the same time, however, one may have a closer look at the goal of this article. For this reason, it is necessary to analyze the second piece of news.
Levins article, Immigration crackdown enables worker exploitation, labor department staff say (2017), discusses a previous period of the employment scandal, which set a specific context for the further events within it. As a Republican, President Trump and his administration had decided to reduce freedom of illegal immigrants who live in the US. Such a policy served as an additional factor for limiting working opportunities of the undocumented residents. In this context, it is necessary to notice the problem of relations between Republican political figures and the US Department of Labor (DoL). Considering DoL is supposed to operate independently from immigration authorities, it causes an adverse effect on all cooperation between these subjects by ruining its primary principles (Levin, 2017). Therefore, in this case, it is possible to argue that Levins article turns out to be a Democratic-oriented piece which contradicts Republican-oriented solutions to it.
Further, to have in-depth insight into the American labor problem, it is imperative to compare the ordinary news article like the two articles above in the essay which not only discusses facts from one side or another but provides an interpretation of the issue considering real context. The Opinion article Organized labor’s decline in the US is well-known. But what drove it? created by Richard Wolff does not undergo Herman and Chomskys propaganda model because, directly speaking, it was not bought. Wolff argues that the New Deal’s enemies big business, Republicans, conservatives had developed a coordinated strategy by the late 1940s. In the modern world, the character of labor transforms from a collective into an individual, and it is relevant to the emergence of the trend of the creation of workers self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) (Wolff, 2013). The transition has also aligned with Martins ideology filter in enhancing individuals democratic rights. As alternatives to regular employment, these types of business are focused on the creation of a new alliance among willing labor unions, community organizations and social movements (Wolff, 2013). WSDEs are considered to be a new democratic approach toward the organization of labor in the US, which encompasses efforts of local communities, labor unions as well as the social movements (Wolff, 2013). Workers self-directed enterprises are the environments where employees may feel comfortable in regard to their socioeconomic position. In essence, these social units help workers control their revenue and workload as well as choose primary conditions for their enterprise, which gives them full freedom of actions.
A discussion of the media propaganda conception presupposes the politically-oriented shred of news to be compared to the free content. Wolffs article is independent of interest as it includes no implicit or even explicit reference to a political figure or sector. Instead of using different methods to uphold the position of either a Democrat or a Republican, Wolff mentions both of them by arguing that these parties increasingly cannot or will not serve average Americans’ economic needs. With such an outcome, it is clear that the journalist is willing to shed light on the real actions of the individuals and political communities which have significant relevance to the American work crisis.
Further, Wolff makes a valuable claim that the Democrats and Republicans still took advantage of the creation of the workers self-directed enterprises, which helps him demonstrate a rather critical approach to analyzing political activity. Although it takes Wolff almost half of the article to explain the relationship between these two strategic players, Wolff has managed to accomplish his goal. The authors main argument lies in the description of the recent alliances between workers self-directed enterprises and those boards and shareholders who were put in their specific places to control the plan on ruining the principles of the New Deal during the last four decades (Wolff, 2013). Finally, Wolff confirms that uniting social collectives with participants of various social movements requires the consideration of WSDEs.
The article of Wolff exemplifies an unlimited perspective of the journalist who is not willing to follow one particular political side because of being manipulated by it. At the same time, however, Wolff reveals the fact that the Republicans are those who manipulate by social and economic trends in the United States to meet their personal interests on the political stage. In regard to the media coverage, the author of this article shows an independent approach toward the examination of facts (Levin, 2017). Ultimately, Wolffs publication is a directly opposite piece of news to that one which undergoes the political influence with the aim to promote certain propaganda.
On the other hand, the article of Mike Elk titled The teachers’ strikes prove it: the media is finally seeing America’s new labor landscape (2018) reveals American job crisis from a different perspective. Considering the primary argument of the article is to uplift the image of labor unions, Elk has used Nissan scandal as the direct means to accomplish his goal. In particular, the journalist described the situation with the Nissan company which utilized inappropriate tools to defeat the union while it subjected the latter to vote for the organization (Elk, 2018). During a campaign, Nissan affected the reputation of the employers who voted against the company by using adverse media coverage.
All in all, the media plays the role of a determinant of the character and the ultimate purpose of providing society with information about significant daily events. From the meta-analysis, it is clear that many newspaper articles reflect an implicit political interest toward promoting a particular ideology, needed to accomplish goals within a specific political discourse. In this case, the propaganda model of Herman and Chomsky is the most appropriate analytical framework to explain the milestones of such a phenomenon. While one media means has an independent position in telling the truth about the life of the US citizens, another focuses on the manipulation of public opinion. Nevertheless, people should be aware of the propaganda model used in mass media in delivering messages that the ones at the top of the hierarchy want to express; and it is essential for the individuals to rationally determine whether the media is illustrating the fact or paneling the consensus towards the results they are aiming for.
Campbell, R., Martin, C., & Fabos, B. (2011). Media & culture (8th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Martin, C. R. (2004). Framed!: Labor and the Corporate Media. Ithaca, N.Y. : ILR Press.
Elk, M. (2018). The teachers’ strikes prove it: the media is finally seeing America’s new labor landscape. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/28/us-teachers-strikes-workers-labor-unions
Herman, E., & Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing consent. Pantheon Books: New York.
Kutsch, T. (2016). Inmates strike in prisons nationwide over ‘slave labor’ working conditions. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/09/us-nationwide-prison-strike-alabama-south-carolina-texas
Levin, S. (2017). Immigration crackdown enables worker exploitation, labor department staff say. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/30/undocumented-workers-deportation-fears-trump-administration-department-labor
Wolff, R. (2013). Organized labor’s decline in the US is well-known. But what drove it?. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/02/labor-unions-decline-can-turnaround