Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth). Deliberateness and a relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual conversation or the free and easy exchange of ideas. Propagandists have a specified goal or set of goals. To achieve these, they deliberately select facts, arguments, and displays of symbols and present them in ways they think will have the most effect. To maximize effect, they may omit or distort pertinent facts or simply lie, and they may try to divert the attention of the reactors (the people they are trying to sway) from everything but their own propaganda.
Definition by Britannica
Operation InfeKtion: How Russia Perfected the Art of War | NYT Opinion
- Please study the vocabulary in the Quizlet set – did you know any of the expressions already?
- Watch the video (note: it’s really long, ~45 minutes!) and see if you can identify the expressions from the Quizlet set and see in what context they appear.
The New Yorker: The Photo Book That Captured How the Soviet Regime Made the Truth Disappear
- What is the definition of propaganda? Can you define it without looking it up?
- Please read the article – how does it make you feel? https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/the-photo-book-that-captured-how-the-soviet-regime-made-the-truth-disappear
- “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – do you know where it is from*? How do you understand this quotation?
*(note for the Teacher: the Students might recognize it but not trace it back to the original (i.e. Orwell’s “1984”) but to artists who have been referencing it, e.g. Rage Against The Machine in the song “Testify”).
What kind of imagery is used in the war posters below?
What do they all have in common?
The Fifth Power
The mass media exert enormous influence on people. Noam Chomsky is one of the most recognised critical communication specialist who studied the role of the mass media in modern societies. Let’s then watch critically ‘The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine’ based on his research.
But what does it mean to watch critically?
Not only do you need to listen carefully and verify the content of the message (a video, song, movie, artwork, etc.), but it is also recommended to analyse the whole context and the elements of the communicative act:
- the sender: who is communicating
- the receiver: who is the addressee
- the message itself
- the channel of communication
- when and where was the message sent
This approach may help you understand not only the explicit and implicit aspects of the message, but also the power dynamics, especially in the public or political discourse.