THERE IS NO GREATER POWER in the world today than that wielded by the manipulators of public opinion in America. No king or pope of old, no conquering general or high priest ever disposed of a power even remotely approaching that of the few dozen men who control America's mass media of news and entertainment. Their power is not distant and impersonal; it reaches into every home in America, and it works its will during nearly every waking hour. It is the power that shapes and molds the mind of virtually every citizen, young or old, rich or poor, simple or sophisticated. The mass media form for us our image of the world and then tell us what to think about that image. Essentially everything we know—or think we know—about events outside our own neighborhood or circle of acquaintances comes to us via our daily newspaper, our weekly news magazine, our radio, or our television.It is not just the heavy-handed suppression of certain news stories from our newspapers or the blatant propagandizing of history-distorting TV "docudramas" that characterizes the opinion-manipulating techniques of the media masters. They exercise both subtlety and thoroughness in their management of the news and the entertainment that they present to us. For example, the way in which the news is covered: which items are emphasized and which are played down; the reporter's choice of words, tone of voice, and facial expressions; the wording of headlines; the choice of illustrations—all of these things subliminally and yet profoundly affect the way in which we interpret what we see or hear.Because there are differences in degree, however, most Americans fail to realize that they are being manipulated. Even the citizen who complains about "managed news" falls into the trap.
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