What do you believe to be real? Well depending on who you are, where you live and what your role in society is this question can be answered in many more ways than I think could ever be a good thing. According to Professor Keith Wilson’s study into the power of the media, approximately 75% of Americans believe almost everything that they read, whether that be in the newspaper, an online journal or simply scribbled on the wall of a public toilet (Wilson, 2006). This statistic is quite disconcerting when you think about what history has taught us in regard to the possible outcomes of mass media control, propaganda and censorship.
A few examples that come to mind include a British newspaper headline referring to the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, where 60,000 British soldiers were killed in 24 hours, which read “A very satisfactory first day – slight Allies losses” (Pitt, 2012), Rupert Murdoch’s the Sunday Telegraph’s blatant campaign ad entitled “Australia Needs Tony” that was published on their front page in the lead up to the 2013 Federal election (McMahon, 2013) and the Chinese government’s complete censorship of all media reports about the Tiananmen Square shootings in 1989 and any words or code terms used online that could relate to what Chinese Communist party officials only refer to as the “June 4th Incident” (Kaiman, 2013).
Many of us carry on with our lives believing that our thoughts are our own and that we are the masters of our own views and opinions. However, if you were to ask a Japanese high school student about their country’s involvement in World War 2, the war crimes that their government ordered, the 200,000 “comfort women” from territories occupied by Japan that were forced into being sex slaves for troops of the Japanese army and the two atomic bombs that reduced Nagasaki and Hiroshima to charred graveyards in August 1995 many of them would stare back in disbelief (Mariko, 2013). This demonstrates just how much control over the media can impact upon our views of the world that we live in, and how our seemingly ‘individual’ thoughts and opinions can be moulded like soft clay by the people, governments and organisations with monopolies over media ownership. So next time you read something in the newspaper, or from an online journal, or in the 7:30 news or simply on the wall next to the urinal try to stop and think about whether any kind of bias or censorship may be coming through in that text because of the owners of that media outlet and whether you will allow yourself to become just another puppet in the hands of those who control the media that you use.
1. Wilson, K (2006), 75% of Americans Believe Everything They Read, Random Perspective, UK
2. Pitt, J (2012), ‘The Great War’, pp 13, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
3. McMahon, J (2013), Political front page causes a stir, Australian Broadcasting Company, Sydney
4. Kaiman, J (2013), Tiananmen Square online searches censored by Chinese authorities, The Guardian, London
5. Mariko, O (2013), What Japanese history lessons leave out, British Broadcasting Company, London
6. Sack, J (2011), Media Puppet Show, Corporate Watch Project, Northwich
7. Mort (2013), The Best Evidence You Have Ever Seen That Puppet Masters Script Mainstream News Reports, Before Its News, California