Propaganda and Media Manipulation
By Royce Carlson
Advertising messages are everywhere and some of the most
effective ads are ones you would not even recognize as advertising.
Many believe that advertising is easily recognizable as television
and radio commercials, magazine and newspaper ads, billboards and other print
advertising. But advertisers are finding ways to promote their products to you
in insidious ways – within the movies and TV shows that you watch, in the
content of television news shows, and in public schools.
Manipulation in the movies
Product placement is a growing marketing ploy that puts specific products
into the hands of actors that will be shown using them in movies and TV shows.
Companies can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to more than $50,000 to get
their product placed in a film or on television, depending on the exposure.
Product placement is an effective way to advertise because viewers are more
likely to stay engaged in watching the show than they would be during
– Read more at http://www.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/9902.Heslin.prodplace.html
You can’t trust the news.
The use of video news releases (VNR’s) by television news shows is on the
increase. VNR’s are short videos produced to resemble TV news stories but
their purpose is to sell you something. VNR’s are provided free to news
programs and are used to a varying degree by all television news shows. They
usually cost $6,000 to $10,000 to create and are typically distributed
nationally via satellite feed. TV stations use them because they have limited
budgets and VNR’s provide free content that they can easily plug into their
VNR’s are used by corporations to announce new products, do
"damage-control" on negative publicity, and create positive attitudes
toward their products or services. An example would be a "news clip"
showing an interview with an expert who says that eating a particular food
product has a health benefit. The viewers don’t know that the news clip is
really a video news release paid for by the company that produces that food
The ethics of journalism are supposed to guide writers and editors to
produce accurate and unbiased articles. But there are several ways that bias
either creeps in or is institutionalized by design. The results are inaccurate
and/or misleading presentations of issues.
Michael Parenti, author of Monopoly Media Manipulation says that the most
common form of manipulation is suppression by omission. He says, "The
corporate mainstream media seldom stray into territory that might cause
discomfort to those who hold political and economic power, including those who
own the media or advertise in it." Parenti then goes on to itemize four
other common ways that news media tilt their stories: attacking, labeling,
framing, and giving prominence to one side of an issue.
Read Michael Parenti's article at http://www.michaelparenti.org/MonopolyMedia.html
Because of all the energy corporations and governments spend on trying to
convince you of a point of view or getting you to buy a product, it is
important to be wary media consumers. This is difficult to do. Who has the time
to research whether a particular issue has been represented accurately or not?
As adults, we can understand that you can’t believe everything you are told,
but what about the children?
Huge amounts of money are being spent to advertise to children. The worst
situation is where advertising is institutionalized in the public school
system. Students are supposed to learn how to think in school, but corporations
only want them to learn how to buy their products. Here are some of the ways
children are being manipulated in school:
Companies are paying school districts for exclusive rights to sell and
advertise their products for the purpose of influencing the future buying
habits of students. For example, Coca Cola pays millions of dollars to school
districts to sell their products to students to the exclusion of other beverage
This kind of exclusive contract limits student choice and even inhibits free
speech. Reebok’s contract with the University of Wisconsin barred teachers
and students from criticizing the company’s shoes until a lawsuit force the
removal of the clause. More info on this at http://redherring.hm/cba/cokefallout.html
Corporate Lesson Plans
Corporations and industry organizations are creating complete sets of lesson
plans that promote their point of view in the guise of educational materials.
Schools are strapped for cash and teachers are underpaid and overworked. They
are often happy to use these free lesson plans – it saves them the time of
creating their own.
According to environmental educator, John Borowski, the 2002 National
Science Teaches Conference contained booths offering curricula created by such
organizations as The American Farm Bureau and Weyerhauser. The "Greening
Earth Society" offered videos promoting the idea that global warming is a
fallacy. The Greening Earth Society is sponsored by the coal industry.
Borowski says in his article, Do Corporations Rule the Schools?,
"Education about the environment is being assaulted on two fronts. First,
multinational corporations are designing and distributing environmental
curricula that are professionally produced, easy to use, often free and
extremely biased in favor of industry. Second, some of the most prominent
conservative think-tanks in America are mounting a well-funded attack on
genuine environmental education."
Read John Borowski's article at http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14355
Some school districts have sold "naming rights" to corporate
sponsors just like sports stadiums do. Corporations are invited to contribute
money for the construction of school buildings and, as acknowledgment for their
support, they get the building named after them. The result is a permanent
advertisement for the company on a public building.
Companies donate school materials with their name and logo on them.
Cadbury-Schweppes distributed 500,000 book covers for free to middle schools to
promote their candy products. Corporations also sponsor educational materials
that include advertising of their products.
Advertising finds its way into schools via incentive programs. Companies
offer their commercial products as reward for academic achievement. School
fund-raisers partner with corporations to raise money. General Mills has run a
program for years that promises to send money to schools based on the number of
cereal box top coupons students collect.
According to the Channel
One web site, "Channel One News is a daily, televised, 12-minute
newscast that is beamed via satellite during the school year to each of the
12,000 schools in the Channel One Network community. Channel One News features
stories on breaking news and in-depth issues that affect the world, the nation
and specifically, America's teenagers."
Eight million students in 12,000 schools are required to watch
commercial-filled television every day. The contracts with Channel One require
that their programs be shown during class time, when students are a captive
audience. According to an analysis by Fairness
and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), only 20 percent of the 12-minute show
is devoted to coverage of "recent political, economic, social and cultural
stories." The rest consists of advertising, self-promotion of Channel One,
sports, weather and natural disasters, and features and profiles. Channel One
is shown disproportionately in schools located in lower-income areas where the
least money is available for education.
Resistance to the increase in advertising and the commercialization of
schools is growing. Some school boards are limiting commercial activities at
schools and banning exclusive contracts with drink companies. Commercial
Alert is dedicated to protecting children from manipulative
advertising. The Media
Awareness Network in Canada supports media literacy and education and
provides educational resources for parents and children.
Knowledge of how we are being manipulated by corporations and the media is
the first step toward doing something about it. At the very least, if you know
the techniques corporations are using to influence you, you will be less likely
to be duped by corporate propaganda and media manipulation.
Information sources for this article:
Monopoly Media Manipulation by Michael Parenti - http://www.michaelparenti.org/MonopolyMedia.html
Article on Channel One - CorpWatch - http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=888
Media Awareness Network - http://www.media-awareness.ca/
Article on product placement - Purdue News - http://www.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/9902.Heslin.prodplace.html
Article on exclusive corporate contracts with schools - - O'Dwyer's PR Services Report May, 1998 -
Do Corporations Rule the Schools? - by John Borowski -
What's in a Name? The Corporate Branding of America's Schools
The Fifth Annual Report on Trends in Schoolhouse Commercialism, Year 2001-2002 - Alex Molnar - Arizona State University
Marketing Madness: Relentless Advertising Messages Are Fueling an Out-of-Control "Culture of Consumerism," and Kids Are Often the Target. What's a Person to Do?
By Laurie Ann Mazur - http://www.emagazine.com/may-june_1996/0596feat2.html
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