1. The media is manipulated in all manners, for example through professional public relations (PR), and covert and overt government propaganda which disseminates propaganda as news. What are often deemed as credible news sources can often knowingly or unknowingly be pushing political agendas and propaganda.
2. The impacts of public relations cannot be underestimated. In the commercial world, marketing and advertising are typically needed to make people aware of products. There are many issues in that area alone (which is looked at in this site’s section on corporate media.)
3. When it comes to propaganda for purposes of war, for example, professional public relations firms can often be involved to help sell a war. In cases where a war is questionable, the PR firms are indirectly contributing to the eventual and therefore unavoidable casualties. Media management may also be used to promote certain political policies and ideologies. Where this is problematic for the citizenry is when media reports on various issues do not attribute their sources properly.
4. Some techniques used by governments and parties/people with hidden agendas include:
a. Paying journalists to promote certain issues without the journalist acknowledging this, or without the media mentioning the sources;
b. Governments or individuals contracting PR firms to sell a war or other important issues
c. Disinformation or partial information reported as news or fact without attributing sources that might be questionable
d. PR firms feeding stories to the press without revealing the nature of the information with the intention of creating a public opinion (for example, to support a war, as the previous link highlights where even human rights groups fell for some of the disinformation, thus creating an even more effective propaganda campaign).
5. The Gulf War in Iraq, 1991, highlighted a lot of PR work in action. The 2003 war on Iraq saw similar amounts of public relations and media manipulation at work. A detailed account was given by Ahmed Chalabi who seemed to boast how he helped influence major politicians and countries into drumming the beats of war against Iraq.
6. Smear tactics are often used to discredit, stain or destroy the reputation of someone. It is unfortunately common-place and is an age-old technique. It can either involve outright lies, or a distortion of the truth.
7. Since March 2005 has seen some revelations in the mainstream about fake news whereby organizations and journalists working for public relations firms or a government department have produced news reports. The problem arises where these reports are either presented as factual news by journalists, or have been rebroadcast by news stations without revealing that the segment is from an organization or the government, thus giving it the appearance of genuine news.
8. This is the age of the fake. We live in an era where the gap between how the world is and how powerful interests try to portray it has grown dramatically wider. Virtually nothing in public debate these days is free of the virus of fakery.
9. Today distortions [such as the famous Stalinist airbrushing of Trotsky from photographs of the Russian revolutionary period] are much more easily contrived. The advent of the digital camera has made it easier, cheaper and quicker to take and distribute photographs — and to manipulate them.
10. In March 2005, the New York Times revealed that there has been a large amount of fake and prepackaged news created by US government departments, such as the Pentagon, the State Department and others, and disseminated through the mainstream media.
11. The New York Times noted a number of important issues including,
A. The US Bush administration has aggressively used public relations to prepackage news. Issues with this have included that:
a. A number of these government-made news segments are made to look like local news (either by the government
department or by the receiving broadcaster);
b. Sometimes these reports have fake reporters such as when a reporter covering airport safety was actually a
public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration;
c. Other times, there is no mention that a video segment is produced by the government;
d. Where there is some attribution, news stations simply rebroadcast them but sometimes without attributing the
B. These segments have reached millions;
C. This benefits both the government and the broadcaster;
D. This could amount to propaganda within the United States as well as internationally.