DepartmentPolitics and Public Administration
Course CodePOL 128
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Review of the Chomsky-He r man “Five Filters”
In 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, in their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political
Economy of the Mass Media, offered an insti t utional analysis of the mainstream American (U.S.) news
media, in the form of what they called a “Propaganda Model” in which they cited and explored that
filtering process of news as a function of the institutional workings of the media as an industry.
The “Five Filters” that function as the key element s of this model have inspired many others around the
world to evolve their own list of fil ters (e.g. S. Brooks in Canada). Here are the original 5 as discussed by
L. Hartt-Four nier in Politics and Film (POL128 Secs. 011 and 021, CPOL128 and CPOL218). Read these
over and after a breif in-class review, be prepared to apply them to your viewing experience of the film
Good Night and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2004). Spaces are left for your notes and for examples
from the film that you can supply dur ing or after the screening. The filters are named in BOLD; the notes
are LHF’s. Even when the book was re-published at updated in 2002, Chomsky and Herman did not
change filter five to the “Ideological” fil ter as other interpreters have (including Brooks).
1) OWNERSHIP (corporate and concentrated)
2) ADVERSTISING (from which commercial TV/radio broadcasters obtain as much as 100% of
their financial resources/funding)
3) SOURCING (reliance on government and cor porate sources and think tank “experts”)
-news outlet is competing with another ex: abc with nbc
4) FLAK (the negative response--such as lawsuits, pulling of ads-- TO a media presentation, or
the FEAR of a negative response)
-Shapes what goes on in the news because you don’t want to offend people in power.
5) ANTICOMMUNISM (as a control factor; avoidance of being branded anti-American or a
“Commie” “Red” “pinko” etc.)
Website THIRD WORLD TRAVELLER has excerpt ed the chapter on the propaganda mode l and filters at
the following web address if you wish to explore them further (hit Ctrl and click to activate the l ink):
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