The following is an extract from an assignment summarizing theories of media manipulation. It makes a handy quick reference for media studies assignments and is also useful for arguing with someone on Facebook.
Repetition and Normalisation (2005: 102)
When an idea is repeated often enough without opposition it can quickly become the norm, inspiring attitudes that lead to inter-group rivalry. Parenti uses the example of the ‘war on terror’ (2005: 103), a media term which was repeated regularly after 9/11, contributing to a prejudice towards all individuals of Middle-Eastern origin or Muslim religion.
Suppression by Omission (2005: 98)
Occasionally a brave journalist uncovers a story which has been suppressed, but generally we don’t have any clue of what isn’t published, just what is. Important information may simply be ‘left out’ in favour of information which may be more beneficial to the publisher.
Attack & Destroy the Target (2005: 99)
Examples of this can be seen in the media every day, but one that seemed particularly brutal was after the Pauline Hanson incident in 2009 where a man sold provocative photos to News Limited which later turned out to be those of a porn star (ASP 2009: Online). After finding out the photos weren’t genuine, their newspapers attacked seller of the photos (Leys, 2009: 21) to discredit him, rather than take blame for publishing a story without proper research.
Face Value Transmission (2005: 102)
The idea that the media presents all information objectively, or at least that they are suppose to, means certain information is presented as fact even if it is only the case in the agenda of that media organisation.
Follow Up Avoidance (2005: 105)
Unpopular topics are often ignored in the media, also avoided are subjects which don’t represent their best interests. Stories about minority groups or individual struggles do little to sell newspapers and are therefore ignored, unless they are sensationalised headlines which are selected to reinforce stereotypes that best suit the interests of the media outlet.
Slighting of Content (2005: 104)
Election time is the most obvious example of this when news channels become little more than commentators of a race. The focus is on the small picture – who will win – not on the bigger issues behind politics, democracy Government and governing.
Framing (2005: 106)
A story can mean different things depending on how, when and where it is told. The order of events and the surrounding circumstances can set the context of an issue, causing a reader to interpret the elements together and generally come to the intended conclusion of the writer.
Labelling (2005: 100)
“A healthy economy” and “Islamic Terrorists” are examples of labels which have become every day language, almost media clichés, to represent groups of stories which may seem on the surface to be related.
Pre-emptive Assumption (2005: 101)
Often media assumes a position and builds on this – the original position may not be proven, or even have merit, but it becomes a pre-emptive assumption. Parenti uses the example of military spending, continuing with the theme of conflict, referring to media after 9/11 which discussed not whether we needed to spend more on military security, but how much we should be spending. The pre-emptive assumption is that we are in danger and must be protected through military efforts.
False Balancing (2005: 105)
Journalism often gives the impression that both sides of a story are told, but this assumes that any story only has 2 sides. Often a story has many different view points but the media is prone to presenting 2 similar arguments as opposing views. This ignores all other aspects of the story, which may negatively affect some members of the community by reinforcing negative stereotypes.
Stuff Just Happens (2005: 107)
We hear stories in the news when a major event happens, but we have to look hard to seek out media which talks about how these events have been able to occur. The example of 9/11 can again be used to illustrate the high volume of media dedicated to the event, but discussions about what came before and the reasons why this event occurred were limited. We don’t talk about why there is conflict. Follow up avoidance is an exception to this rule with the overall issue of security being an example which was discussed heavily, using it as a justification for taking away privacy rights and contributing to discrimination against particular groups.