Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
First edition
Author Edward S. Herman &
Noam Chomsky
Country United States
Language English
Genre Politics
Published 1988 (Pantheon Books)
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
OCLC 47971712
381/.4530223 21
LC Class P96.E25 H47 2002
Preceded by The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians
Followed by Necessary Illusions

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a 1988 non-fiction book co-written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, wherein the authors argue that the mass media of the United States "are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion".[1]

The title derives from the phrase "the manufacture of consent," employed by essayist–editor Walter Lippmann (1889–1974) in his book Public Opinion (1922).[2] Chomsky has said that Australian social psychologist Alex Carey, to whom the book was dedicated, was in large part the impetus of his and Herman's work.[3] The book introduced the propaganda model of the media. A film, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, was later released based on the book.

Government and news media

Editorial distortion is aggravated by the news media’s dependence upon private and governmental news sources. If a given newspaper, television station, magazine, etc., incurs governmental disfavor, it is subtly excluded from access to information. Consequently, it loses readers or viewers, and ultimately, advertisers. To minimize such financial danger, news media businesses editorially distort their reporting to favor government and corporate policies in order to stay in business.

Editorial bias: five filters

Herman and Chomsky's "propaganda model" describes five editorially distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:

  1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners - often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.
  2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de facto licensing authority".[4] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.
  3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.”[5]
  4. Flak and the Enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[5]
  5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the "War on Terror", as the major social control mechanism.[6]

Recent developments

  • In 2006, the Turkish government prosecuted Fatih Tas, owner of the Aram editorial house, two editors and the translator of the revised (2001) edition of Manufacturing Consent for "stirring hatred among the public" (per Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code) and for "denigrating the national identity" of Turkey (per Article 301), because that edition’s introduction addresses the Turkish news media’s reportage of governmental suppression of the Kurdish populace in the 1990s; they were acquitted.[7][8]
  • In 2007, at the 20 Years of Propaganda?: Critical Discussions & Evidence on the Ongoing Relevance of the Herman & Chomsky Propaganda Model (15–17 May 2007) conference at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Herman and Chomsky summarized developments to the propaganda model, followed by the publication of the proceedings of a commemoration of the twentieth publication anniversary of Manufacturing Consent in 2008.
  • In 2008, Chomsky replied to questions concerning the ways internet blogs and self-generated news reportage conform to and differ from the propaganda model. He also explained how access to information is not enough, because a framework of understanding is required.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Herman, Edward S.; Chomsky, Noam. Manufacturing Consent. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 306. 
  2. ^ p. 13, Noam Chomsky, Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda, Paradigm Publishers 2004.
  3. ^ Noam Chomsky, Class Warfare, Pluto Press 1996, p. 29: "Ed Herman and I dedicated our book, Manufacturing Consent, to him. He had just died. It was not intended as just a symbolic gesture. He got both of us started in a lot of this work."
  4. ^ James Curran and Jean Seaton, Power without responsibility : the press and broadcasting in Britain (First edition 1981, with many subsequent editions).
  5. ^ a b Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent.
  6. ^ Noam Chomsky, Media Control, the Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (1997).
  7. ^ Butler, Daren (2006-07-04). "Turkish publisher faces prosecution over Chomsky book". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-07-12. 
  8. ^ "Turks acquitted over Chomsky book". London: BBC News. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2006-12-20. 
  9. ^ "Authors@Google: Noam Chomsky". 2008-05-02. 

External links

  • Synopsis with Herman interview
  • The Herman-Chomsky Propaganda Model Twenty Years On Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 6(2), 2009
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.