Byline interviewed Noam Chomsky, to find out his views on the current media landscape. Are the media still “manufacturing consent”?
Three decades ago, Professor Noam Chomsky, who is seen by some as the most brilliant and courageous intellectual alive and by others as an anti-US conspiracy theorist, penned his powerful critique of the Western corporate media in his seminal book Manufacturing Consent, with co-author Edward S Herman. The book had a profound impact on my perception of the mainstream media in my teenage years, and was crucial in some ways to my decision to start Byline with my co-founder Daniel Tudor. By cutting out the advertiser and political bias of the proprietor, we believed that crowdfunding had the potential to democratise the media landscape and support independent journalism.
In “Manufacturing Consent,” Noam Chomsky posits that Western corporate media is structurally bound to “manufacture consent” in the interests of dominant, elite groups in society. With “filters” which determine what gets to become ‘news’ – including media ownership, advertising, and “flak”, he shows how propaganda can pervade the “free” media in an ostensibly democratic Western society through self-censorship. However, lot has changed since then. We now have the Internet. The so-called legacy media organisations which have been “manufacturing consent” according to Chomsky are in massive financial trouble. Has any of his analysis changed? I recently interviewed Noam Chomsky at his MIT office, to find out his views on the current media landscape.