Animal Farm: The Media’s Herding of the Masses

I remember in high school reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm and being merely amused by talking animals and the idea of them being farmers.

My young mind at that time did not understand the situation Orwell had written his story for and as such found it funny whenever Squealer came to deliver news, with his jump, skip and hop ways of delivery. It was only later that I realized that his hop and skip version of the events he relayed was only propaganda to pacify and control the animals on the farm. Orwell’s use of the character Squealer highlights an important part of society that media holds and the power of the stories that it carries.

Image via ec.europa.eu
Image via ec.europa.eu

Media has risen in power throughout the years, whereas previously weeks would pass before the public would hear of certain topics. Updates are now almost instantaneous thanks to the internet and social media. These updates have proven to be the deciding factors in many events and how a country decides its fate – think elections.  If we were to look at countries where a free and unbiased media thrives, these countries were mostly democracies where the people were critical of those in charge. Suppression of media entities tended to be in countries where an oppressive regime was in power such as North Korea, where the persona of Squealer would exist. Media is the voice of the people, suppressing it is the equivalent of silencing those who would be critical of whatever is being done.  The omission of facts from the media in order to present“positive”, feel-good, wholesome content” is nothing short of propaganda meant to create a passive audience capable of thinking within the box. For progress to be made, an informed population is needed.

While those hiding negative images from the public might think they are helping, the presentation of only positive information is dangerous as it hides the problems of stereotypes, discrimination and corruption. Looking at the reporting of crime especially those of a sexual nature and against males, these are often underreported as highlighted by the National Crime Prevention and Community Safety Strategy, October 2010. The media is obligated to present this information to the masses but because it not a positive image, it would be omitted. This is a dangerous precedent to set as it endangers those who don’t know of the danger it presents. Progress for progress’s sake is the peak of arrogance and history has many instances of this not ending well. Negative images play their part in the media by showing the injustices that are present in the world and how we as its inhabitants have a social responsibility to stop it.

  

A key part that an unbiased media play in human development is that it aids in the shaping of public opinion on policies and strategies which are key to moving forward. How the media presents these are very important as the public needs to know what its elected representatives do their behalf. The recent debate around the Chinese purchase of Goat Islands is a prime example of this. The backlash it drew was as a result an unbiased media presenting all the facts the Government neglected to tell the public proves that this type of honesty is necessary in order to avoid or better yet educate persons on  issues of this nature. Yet even with this in mind, the excitement around this issue has died off and the deals are back behind closed doors without public scrutiny.

The world is not a Utopia and should not be presented as such. It is a place of conflict and ideas that are often at odds with each other but it is this potpourri of differences that drives advancement and progress. The presentation of only positive images is propaganda meant to pacify and control.Positive images are necessary in order to show that improvement is taking place but the negatives are needed to show areas that need work. For progress to take place, the media must play its part and present the world as it is and not how we want. We cannot have progress for progress’s sake.

The media is the most powerful entity on Earth. It has the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and that’s power, because they control the mind of the masses. -Malcolm X

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