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USAID Project for Strengthening the Media in Macedonia
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Executing Propaganda Operations Against Your Own People as if They Are the Enemy

on 3 - 03 - 2016       
Овој напис го има и на: Macedonian
Пропаганда. Фото: Ramón Peco, 2013
Propaganda. Photo: Ramón Peco, 2013

 

The current continued and repetitive propaganda of the government media resembles a typical intelligence handling of population in some enemy country, but in no way well-meant and objective informing of own people.

 

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” (George Orwell)

 

Author: Vladimir Petreski

 

Consistent and repetitive publishing of stories paid from one party center same as they are received, and without quoting the real source is a propaganda with no need of additional explanations. Such publication in the government media are a fact several years already. Not only that they represent propaganda, but they also represent a disgrace as well – both for the one ordering them and for the media persistently publishing them as if they come out from a production line on daily basis.

This publication of one and the same article in multiple media, article whose origins are unknown, in a period of just 24 hours is the greatest dream for any spy operating in a certain enemy country, and succeeding in arranging things in such manner for the the local media of that place with no objections to publish daily line of articles/stories attacking everyone and everything, sowing disarray, destroying worthy persons’ credibility in such enemy country, its’ political parties and so forth. However, creating such propaganda, i.e. using these spy (or “intelligence”) techniques upon your own people, represents further perverting of the already suspicious ethic issues that intelligence confronts.

How differently, but as an application of spy methods intended for enemy countries, to understand publishing of filth upon request in our own country in order to attack the fellow citizens when it comes to publications having no sources or the sources quoted are anonymous, which is immediately a sign that they do not exist (have never been named, not even in other articles, and are never right i.e. their information turns out to be incorrect and their assaults end up being invented). It’s not only that the sources in the articles are anonymous or do not exist, but also the articles themselves are anonymous i.e. are never signed. Publishing personal attacks by anonymous sources is not allowed in journalism, it is also forbidden not to let the attacked side defend, and furthermore, it is not allowed to attack anybody in an article not containing a by-line. Beside sources being anonymous, articles being unsigned, the websites that publish these articles are anonymous as well, i.e. have no impressum. Typical espionage wet dream. Greatest intelligence success if it would have been done in an enemy country. In addition to creating disarray and mutual internal animosities, traces of such act leading to you have been perfectly covered and those who published such articles on your behalf are anonymous to a certain degree too. (and well paid, for sure, therefore they have to stay silent). The problem here is that this was not done to an enemy country, but to your own, it is not an enemy nation at the receiving end, but your own people, who didn’t do anything to deserve such espionage type handling, which looks as if you are trying to start a civil war from within. So, the government media propaganda has reached such levels.

 

LEGITIMIZATION VIA UNSCRUPULOUS REPETITION

To make matters even worse, after the appearance of such article on an anonymous websites, additional step of its legitimization follows. How is that achieved? The same way as with lies. They get legitimized after being repeated many times. When it comes to journalism article, it becomes legitimate after being repeatedly republished. And so, the 24-hour caravan of republishing it from anonymous websites to websites that have an impressum begins, and later in the day the story reaches the national TV channels’ evening news, where it causes largest damage, since these TV news, squeezed between a Turkish soap opera and a Serbian reality show, are watched by most viewers. Because of that, such propaganda stories with seeming spy type background, here gain the greatest dosage of legitimacy. Simply, the website’s name where they are taken from is quoted, hence, they have some kind of source (more precisely “source”) so the viewers would think they are getting legitimate content. However, besides the disgraceful background of these articles, another disgrace also takes place in the national government media. They dare to take news from some kind of small anonymous website with several employees, unlike the TV stations themselves which have a hundred or more employees, but it seems like they do nothing except taking stories from websites. Oftentimes, there have been more such broadcasted stories in one daily news edition. Lastly, the same articles end up in the daily government newspapers and are supplemented with several trivialities so it would appear as if they contain some added value, which is needed, having in mind that newspapers are not free and need to be paid for. And, with that, the 24-hour cycle of this propaganda operation is closed and looks as if it has been taken from the spy textbooks of KGB or CHEKA and the new cycle of anonymous fiction, with which the public will be preoccupied in the next 24 hours, can begin.

What is the goal of this constant planting of quasi-news, attacks, oftentimes containing insults, defamation and sometimes even open discrimination, hate speech and call on violence? Creating doubt! You don’t have to believe in what you’ve been served with. At least not the first, fifth, tenth or fiftieth time. The primary goal is to create doubt inside you that, maybe what the government says via her media is probably true to a certain point. Or even if it is not true, opens some kind of seemingly “unpleasant questions” for the other side. So, you are carefully directed to think in that direction: is there “something” in what you have been served with? That “something” does not have to be true at first, it is probably a half-truth, it might confuse you, it might astonish you, but your defense mechanisms are slowly collapsing. On the next day, or next week, a new doubt will be imposed to you related to some other subject, then new and new and so after a while your own mind will be “assaulted” by plethora of doubts for the “treasonous opposition” and that will mean that the defense walls protecting us from the lies and manipulations, ones we all have, will slowly diminish, and if the manipulations last long enough, they will collapse in some of us. It won’t do any harm if those walls are crushed by quality and professional journalist products, rather than propaganda. But, it is not always easy to distinguish these two things. At times, the propaganda is wrapped up in something that resembles journalism a little bit, sometimes our defense walls are not high enough, we might not watch the news with full attention, maybe we do something else at the same time, (therefore TV stations are most efficient in delivering propaganda, since when you read you cannot do something else to distract you so much) and from time to time we either do not have enough previous knowledge on the topic since it could be of specialized or expert nature, or simply we are not informed enough and the propaganda exploits our lack of information. Falling under propaganda does not mean we are “stupid” or “unintelligent”. These two things do not relate with each other. Why certain people fall more easily, and some fall harder under influence from different sources is a complex topic, which still is a subject of science research. However, what’s known is the fact that the long-term and wide-ranging propaganda, which is not confronted by anyone in the public discourse, which is also full of lies and half-truths, regularly and continuously repeating several different messages in divergent manners and forms, can, unfortunately, be highly effective.

 

ASK YOURSELVES THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

But, on the other hand, if we take several steps back and if we take a look at the complete image, if we make an effort to look at the woods, which we haven’t been able to see it due to the trees (government media), and if we ask ourselves the right questions, then this whole house of propaganda cards will collapse in front of us: Why is there no source in all these articles containing attacks? Who is actually saying what’s presented to me? What’s the name of the journalist who has written this article? Does this website have an impressum and an editor-in-chief? And finally, why all these government media are presenting me with the same news? Wouldn’t they want to have their own news in order to distinguish themselves from the others and by doing so to attract a wider audience? What is goal of publishing same articles in different media in completely same or with just slightly changed appearance? Oftentimes with same topic? Why the experts are either nonexistent (in most cases) or the same people comment to all events and represent themselves as experts in all areas?

None of these questions has any or a satisfactory answer. And there is not a chance of one. Propaganda’s goal is not to answer all your questions, neither part of them. The goal is to wake up the doubt about an issue they speak of, but not to answer the key questions and to hide the true answers.


This column was created within the framework of the USAID Media Strengthening in Macedonia Project - Media Fact-Checking Service Component,, mplemented by Metamorphosis. The column is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, USAID or the United States Government. For more information on the work of USAID in Macedonia please visit its website (http://macedonia.usaid.gov) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USAIDMacedonia).

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