Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Thai-Style "Propaganda Headlines"

In the run-up to the November US elections, I posted on a media manipulation technique perfected by the Bush Administration. I called it the art of the "Propoganda Headline." This is how I described the phenomena:
Media corporations like CNN will repeat any strongly worded White House statement as a headline news item. So if the White House spin is fiction, the headline will be fiction. Because it's the headline that the public will remember, in this way a lie becomes an accepted "truthiness." Call this the "Propaganda Headline Syndrome."
In an international public relations coup, Thailand's government has managed to spin the bombings in such a way as to generate "Propaganda Headlines" at many foreign media outlets. Andrew Walker at New Mandala writes:
Thailand’s military regime has wasted no time at all in blaming Thaksin supporters for the Bangkok bombings. And their rather bizarre message is having an effect in the international media. The Sydney Morning Herald’s international news leads with “Thaksin supporters linked to bombs;” the New York Times carries Supporters of Thai Ex-Premier Blamed for Blasts; the BBC has Thai PM blames rivals for blast... And even my Yahoo morning welcome message carried “Ousted Thai PM backers eyed in bombings."
I was somewhat taken aback by the New York Times headline when I first saw it. If even an overwhelmed Thai regime can attain such proficiency in playing the Propoganda Headline game, why does the world press allow itself to be played so blatantly?

As I showed in the earlier posting, there are creative means by which good editors avert the moral hazard of the Propoganda Headline.

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