There exists no line between propaganda and information, but rather a continuum. From the very decision regarding what constitutes news to the interpretation of the facts of a given event, human bias is impossible to remove. Our media is the expression of our culture in the public sphere, and as such, it will always reflect the biases of the underlying culture. In the United States, these biases include American exceptionalism, the supremacy of democracy, the primacy of the individual, the notion that one’s place in life is earned through hard work and perseverance, and many more. Some of these have a positive effect and reinforce a positive group culture, but others have a negative effect and reinforce a negative group culture.

In our November issue, we explore the continuum between information and propaganda and how it manifests itself around the world. We begin with Neil Fitzgerald’s piece Propaganda’s children, which takes a look at the children of Vietnam who have lived their entire lives under the communist regime. In 101 billionaires, Rob Hornstra turns his camera on post-communist Russia and looks at some of those who haven’t benefited from the transition to capitalism.  Leyna Lightman takes us to Istanbul, Turkey, in Attempting a_ure.

Still, we cannot avoid the long shadow of the US presidential election completely. The propaganda flying in the last 20 months has been too thick to ignore. Amy Brozio-Andrews and I review Free Ride: John McCain and the Media in When the foxes guard the henhouse. Jeffery Guillermo takes a look at the US media’s addiction to danger and drama in Disaster for sale.  Terry Lowenstein ruminates on the rituals of the campaign season in Disinformation revealed. Finally, Keith Olsen tears into the media coverage of Sarah Palin in his article A moose-flogging, cheerleading dominatrix?

Whether the result of deliberate intent, or the result of simple human nature, the news media will always exert a level of influence over a population. In the days following the upcoming election, there will be handwringing and recriminations regarding the influence of the media in the campaign. There will be a temptation for some to blame their electoral loss on a media bias, ignoring the role of their own policies and decisions. They will do this to their own detriment. While the "liberal media" may be a good scapegoat, they are not a functional substitute for a political ideology or agenda.

 

I am a writer/editor turned web developer. I’ve served as both Editor-in-chief and Technical Developer of In The Fray Magazine over the past 5 years. I am gainfully employed, writing, editing and developing on the web for a small private college in Duluth, MN. I enjoy both silence and heavy metal, John Milton and Stephen King, sunrise and sunset. Like all of us, I contain multitudes.

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