Social Question

josie's avatar

Why do people seem to want to want propaganda instead of news?

Asked by josie (27866points) March 6th, 2011

News is information about events without a particular context, in advance of opinion.
Propaganda is information within an exclusive context, designed to influence opinion.

Whatever their political leanings, it seems that an awful lot of people these days do not want “news”.

They want propaganda.
Their propaganda.
And furthermore, they want to discredit at best, or eliminate at worst, the other side’s propaganda at the same time.

News outlets, be they TV, radio, print, blogs or anything else, are understandably going to respond to this and attempt to capture a niche in the information consumer market. Thus some outlets will produce propaganda for the left, others for the right, others for the so called moderates etc. etc.

It is not really the news outlets fault that they seem to suffer from one bias or another. It is the consumer’s expectations that is the “problem”.

So why do people seem to want propaganda instead of news?

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19 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

They have to do less work to form an opinion.

filmfann's avatar

People don’t want the truth. They want to be able to justify their unreasonable hate.
I admit that I hate GW Bush, but I don’t feel I ever embraced unreasonable stories about him.
People just love to believe Obama is Kenyan-born, suffereing from parasites, and is a Muslim/Communist/Facist. They don’t want to even acknowledge the truth that he is trying to help the poor of this country, fix the economy, and return our freedoms.

bolwerk's avatar

I doubt people really care for propaganda. Propaganda is deliberate, and often designed not to look like propaganda. What happens in practice is broadcast media repeat things people respond to for ratings purposes, which makes for a kind of de facto propaganda, especially as other media repeat it. The teabaggers, Sarah Palin, missing pretty girls, food scares, video game violence, Charlie Sheen’s latest stream of verbal diarrhea, incidental crimes, and many, many other things “reported” on are simply not important in any way in the grand scheme of things – though the press perhaps finds ways to turn them into self-sustaining stories.

Trends are important, and rarely reported on. Nobody would figure you’re more likely to die in a car accident than you are to be murdered by a street thug, but it’s the case. People fleeing cities to escape urban crime are likely making themselves more likely to die.

jaytkay's avatar

It’s comforting to hear people back up one’s beliefs and prejudices.

flutherother's avatar

People don’t want propaganda but they want reinforcement of their views. They will blot out or consider biased any news that doesn’t do that.

jerv's avatar

Look, we care more about voting for American Idol than for the Amercan President. More people watch Glen Beck of Jon Stewart than the State of the Union. While I think that @flutherother is pretty close to the truth, I think it’s for about bread and circuses. I mean propaganda requires showmanship, and we love showmanship.

bolwerk's avatar

It’s unfortunate that I have to say this, but, unlike Glenn Beck or most cable news hosts, Jon Stewart actually informs his viewers.

jerv's avatar

@bolwerk True, but the truth is that despite using facts and all, at the end of the day, Jon Stewart is an entertainer and not a journalist. Regardless, he is a better showman than you will see on CBS News or CNN, so guess who gets more viewers?

BarnacleBill's avatar

People only want to hear what supports their point of view because it justifies that they are right, whatever their leanings are.

bolwerk's avatar

@jerv: Stewart doesn’t pretend to be unbiased. And I’d have way less of a problem with even O’Reilly, who is frankly a bully, if he at least admitted he doesn’t live in a No Spin Zone.

breedmitch's avatar

Do they “seem to want to want” or do they just want?~

josie's avatar

@breedmitch Can’t read their minds and I haven’t done a poll. Seems seemed appropriate.

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

If people actually take the time to listen to news and inform themselves they may, at some point, be faced with having to adjust; or even change, their own pre-conceived beliefs and ideologies. A large number of people are VERY uncomfortable with the idea that there is room for growth or improvement in their own heads, thus, it is much simpler to swallow whatever their chosen news venue spoon feeds them without verifaction of any facts.

ETpro's avatar

@josie You’re noticing something common to human psychology. It is called confirmation bias. We tend to selectively hear that which confirms our preexisting biases and tune out that which does not. The further we let ourselves drift into this habit the more we become inflexible ideologues immune to any facts that don’t agree with our world view.

As to what is propaganda and what’s news, all news outlets have to select out of the trillions of pieces of information that happen each day a small set they are going to present. They make that judgment based on the interests of their audience. That does not make what they present propaganda.

Propaganda is news adjusted with spin, and often partly or completely fabricated to influence people. It’s news deliberately modified from “Just the facts” to political advertising and backstop for a specific set of talking points. It’s the second and third sense of the dictionary definition below.

Propoganda
1—capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
2—the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3—ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

While they are often accused of propaganda, most news outlets do not fit that definition. They actually deliver news, either top stories or slanted news such as financial news, etc. Only a handful of TV news outlets fit the definition even a bit, and Fox News is the only one I am aware of that is willing to deliberately lie and doctor films and photographs in order to deliver a false story and pass it off as “news.”

mammal's avatar

Yeah, i agree it’s pretty stupid, maybe it helps reinforce the fictional, happy kingdom that abides and functions by our rules.

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. is a truism

But actually you can learn a great deal unconventionally from newspapers. Certainly about propaganda, wish fulfillment, psychology, deeper political trends, prejudices and so forth. But they are of course no substitute for an education per se, that would be ridiculous but depressingly commonplace.

flo's avatar

Finding out the real news more challenging I guess. It may be more scandoulous gossipy sounding.

mattbrowne's avatar

Lack of self esteem and the inability to challenge their assumptions.

bolwerk's avatar

I love how nobody is blaming the press itself for all the propaganda. Glenn Beck may be an authoritarian clown, but somebody was highly irresponsible enough to let him on the air in place of an hour of what could at least be serious news or dialogue.

ETpro's avatar

@bolwerk Rupert Murdoch is the billionaire financier behind News Corp. News Corp now owns Fox Channel, and a growing number of national newspapers. He and the billionaire Koch Brothers finance right-wing think tanks cranking our propaganda to push for a fascist form of corporatism replacing American Democracy. The billionaires behind that are doing it because they plan to be at the pinnacle of the corporatocracy they set up, and rake in billions more.

There is little to no independent press in America any more. It is almost exclusively owned by large multi-national corporations interested in pushing for the corporatocracy.

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