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Good introduction to thinking about media bias.
on 15 August 2005
Chomsky's famous books "Necessary Illusions" and "Manufacturing Consent" (co-written with Edward S. Herman) stand as excellent assessments of the propaganda inherent in the current media system. The thing is with those books is that they are quite detailed, and for someone seeking a nice route into thinking about the issue of propaganda, government spin, and how the media are complicit in it, Chomsky's "Media Control: Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda" is a much better choice. It is good because it introduces some basics. For example, how did the modern PR (public relations) industry start? Who gave rise to the way propaganda is used in modern society? So, all this is good entry-level stuff. The book itself is short and could be read in about an hour to two hours (depending on how quick you read). A couple of things to note is that Chomsky likes certain themes to illustrate his points (I guess the ones that he's done most research on in his time), such as what happened in Nicaragua, for instance. You'll find some of that in this book, so if you've read it elsewhere, you may get a little frustrated that he's using the same examples. If you don't know anything about propaganda or Nicaragua, you're looking at the right book. I'm not saying Nicaragua is where the propaganda happens. The propaganda is in OUR culture, but Nicaragua is relevant for other reasons - and its a nice way to learn some history you may not know. So a lot is squeezed into this little book, and moreover it's written in a much simpler style than most of what Chomsky puts out. The one drawback I think the book suffers from is that it isn't referenced as well as all his other work. I think this is because the majority of the material comes from speeches he's made and it's difficult to reference them in retrospect. However, if you go to the more heavy-duty books I mentioned above, you'll find references a-plenty. Overall: good for the beginner, interesting for the intermediate person or Chomsky lover, a bit mild for the expert.