Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fear & propaganda - Howard's pitch for re-election cranks up

Only those disciplined enough to stay away from television sets are not being bombarded by a Howard government propaganda blitz reminiscent of periods of nationalistic fervour during the last century. Now we are getting the 'terrorism' adds again, just to ensure the right dollop of fear is mixed in with the masala of Howard Government self-promotion.

The Wikipedia has quite a bit to say on propaganda methods. Take this excerpt for instance:

"Propaganda also has much in common with public information campaigns by governments, which are intended to encourage or discourage certain forms of behavior (such as wearing seat belts, not smoking, not littering and so forth). Again, the emphasis is more political in propaganda. Propaganda can take the form of leaflets, posters, TV and radio broadcasts and can also extend to any other medium. In the case of the United States, there is also an important legal (imposed by law) distinction between advertising (a type of overt propaganda) and what the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an arm of the United States Congress, refers to as "covert propaganda."

Journalistic theory generally holds that news items should be objective, giving the reader an accurate background and analysis of the subject at hand. On the other hand, advertisements evolved from the traditional commercial advertisements to include also a new type in the form of paid articles or broadcasts disguised as news. These generally present an issue in a very subjective and often misleading light, primarily meant to persuade rather than inform. Normally they use only subtle propaganda techniques and not the more obvious ones used in traditional commercial advertisements. If the reader believes that a paid advertisement is in fact a news item, the message the advertiser is trying to communicate will be more easily "believed" or "internalized."

Such advertisements are considered obvious examples of "covert" propaganda because they take on the appearance of objective information rather than the appearance of propaganda, which is misleading. Federal law specifically mandates that any advertisement appearing in the format of a news item must state that the item is in fact a paid advertisement...

Propaganda, in a narrower use of the term, connotates deliberately false or misleading information that supports or furthers a political (but not only) cause or the interests of those with power. The propagandist seeks to change the way people understand an issue or situation for the purpose of changing their actions and expectations in ways that are desirable to the interest group. Propaganda, in this sense, serves as a corollary to censorship in which the same purpose is achieved, not by filling people's minds with approved information, but by preventing people from being confronted with opposing points of view. What sets propaganda apart from other forms of advocacy is the willingness of the propagandist to change people's understanding through deception and confusion rather than persuasion and understanding."

Sound familiar? Countless millions of tax payer's dollars are pouring into the coffers of advertising companies selling the Howard government to credulous voters. Just in case you miss one of the ads you can be sure it will be repeated ad nauseum. The question to be asked is why is this bald-faced electoral propaganda being funded from the public purse? How does this stack up in the pantheon of bad governance that has become a hallmark of Howard's government?

'Man of the people' - all trackkied up and ready to lead (up several more dead ends)

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