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Media as Covert Sociological Propaganda

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    One issue in Tom Cooper’s ‘Between the Summits: What American’s Think About Media Ethics’ that stands out to me is the concern about invasive advertising and its effect on the privacy of the citizens of a nation. This concern has become more and more of a problem over the last several years because of ‘new technologies and practices have brought about the rise of pop-ups, product placement, spam, telemarketing, automated bulk (adult) junk mail, and much more.

    These practices have augmented privacy and permission concern for all media’ (Cooper 23). This over-saturation of advertisements can lead to an invasion of privacy for many people because of a few reasons, email spa and junk mail and product placement in everything on television.

    Email spam and junk mail has become a really invasion over the last several years because now companies, including adult content, is making its way into the email boxes of millions of americas. These emails can contain a lot of things like tabloids, signup for risky websites and also email scams that come from all around the world. The tabloids point is mainly an invasions of privacy on celebrities or people in power because ‘reports’ can write anything they want about a person as long as they don’t directly state something horrible about them.

    Most of the time the use text to emphasize what they want to talk about but the article is not about what you think. For example, The will right things about political people that is so over the top exaggerated that people want to pick up and read it but when they open it up the article is not exactly what they think.

    The next thing is product placement in America. We live in an over-saturation and misguided age of product placement and advertising. From the ‘Tragedies of the Broadcast Commons: Consumer Perspectives on the Ethics of Product Placement and Video News Releases, it states that ‘broadcasters are technically required to disclose all forms of consideration under law, recent forms of stealth marketing, such as product placement and VNR’s, raise the question how effectively sponsor identification rules are enforces’ (Newell 206).

    Things like stealth marketing are a really thing that invade privacy of a citizen because it is a way of making you want to buy a product without directly saying that to the consumer. For example, if a company wants to sell lets say a new video game the company usually send an employee out to test a new video game we will say, put them in a coffee shop and just let people come up to ask them what they are playing and then ask if they can play. They try and get people interested in the product by allowing them to use it, like someone would try a free sample of food at a store to see if they would like it before they bought it, and ingrain in their mind that they want it. They is the trick to stealth marketing and involves invading a person’s mind in a sense to get them to buy a product.

    In the article, ‘Media Concentration and Minority Ownership…’ Omachonu and Healy argue that media reform efforts must incorporate Habermasian and Ellulian approaches. For this question, Ellulian approach will be looked at to see whether it is necessary or useful. His approach was to see the mass media as ‘covert sociological propaganda by which he means that society’s goals are dominated by technical means’ (Omachonu and Healy 93). He thought the mass media was the precondition for propaganda to thrive and survive and stated that ‘where film production, the press, and radio transmission are not centrally controlled, no propaganda is possible’ (Omanchonu and Healy 94).

    In others words he found that the way to to reform the mass media, it can not longer be centrally controlled and allow ‘propaganda to flourish while the absence of centralized control dissuades propaganda formation because there are many players, then the current wave of media concentration is encouraging a ‘sociological propaganda’ that allows the twin trends to perpetuate themselves and stifle efforts to encourage diversity of ownership’ (Omanchonu and Healy 95). In other words, the problem that media is facing is that it only talkings about things that people in power want the audience to know and leave out the the big picture issues because they seem like they don’t want to deal with them.

    Propaganda is the leading force behind all of this because it is ingraining the same information into everyone’s mind so that they become complacent with how the nation is trying to run. The approach by Ellulian is useful because it makes people start to question and demand that there is a change in the way that issues are brought up and talked about by the mass media. They should not be a denial of certain topics because the media, and those who control it, don’t want to talk about it.

    The mass media has to try and decentralize itself from its propaganda and big companies so that they can facilitate change in a country by providing the facts that were once shielded to the public. We have to talk about things like equality among genders, the treatment of minorities, and many more in order to create some sort of change. That is why this is reform is needed, there needs to be equal opportunity for everyone so if there is no more propaganda, and bias towards certain topics and people, there can be a shift. It allows people to see all sides of a topic and not just one, that is why Ellulian’s reform needs to happen.

    The ‘broadcast commons’ is the publics trust in the advertisements done by companies. The problem that is being faced is the most companies are moving away from ethical ways of persuading people to buy their product and are now moving towards unethical ways. In other words the companies are manipulating the truth behind some of their products by leaving out possible dangers that could come with it. The primary stay on the positive side of the products use so that people don’t get scared of what could happen.

    There is also an over-saturation of product advertisements as the article states, ‘The increases in product placement and brand integration have blurred the distinction between program content and advertising, with the duration of in-program brand appearances in some network shows exceeding the total duration of commercial breaks’ (Newell 201). With the used of product placement and video news releases the consumer is always seeing some sort of product that is trying to be sold. If we think about, if you put on any sports broadcast you will see advertisements on all the walls of the stadium, on the jumbotron, and even the players are wearing ads on their jerseys.

    Then you put on the news, when they talk about advertisers they leave out information that could be harmful to them and there is no way for the public to gain access to that information. The companies are tying to keep secret certain things that could be harmful to them in the long run should anyone find out what they are hiding. The problem is that most people have started to lose trust in the advertisements because they are starting to understand that the companies don’t care what happens to them as soon as they buy the product all they see the money rolling into their pockets. The public see that there is no more mutual understanding of trust and respect.

    Even though ‘broadcasters are technically required to disclose all forms of consideration under law, recent forms of stealth marketing, such as product placement and VNR’s, raise the question how effectively sponsor identification rules are enforces’ (Newell 206). Stealth marketing is a big one because it is a way for the company to sell you a product without your knowledge.

    They usually send an employee out to test a new video game we will say, put them in a coffee shop and just let people come up to ask them what they are playing and then ask if they can play. They are not directly telling the person to buy this game but are setting a trap for them. It is stuff like this that is breaking the trust with the public and the increase of product placement and video news has a big part in that.

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