Today, in times of information wars, a lot of talk is made about propaganda. The paradox is that such statements can be heard from all sides. Europeans claim that Russians are under the pressure of propaganda; Russians, in turn, respond that it is Europeans who are being zombified by false information. Let’s try to figure out together where propaganda is taking place and where the purest truth is being spread.
To perform a brief analysis, we will divide all media into two categories (regardless of the format of presentation): private and state/municipal.
State/municipal sources are maintained at taxpayers’ expense and are subordinate to a board of directors. It is no secret that the highest positions in any state’s public institutions are political positions, i.e., they are appointed either by the deputies of the ruling party/coalition or by their proxies (one-party officials, for example). The board of directors, in turn, approves the management board, which is in charge of the economic activities of the enterprise (or group of enterprises).
Now let us imagine that some state TV channel or Internet portal begins to produce material that denounces the ruling party, i.e., its own employer, for indecent behavior. Such a phenomenon, of course, cannot go on for long. It is simply not logical. Therefore, we cannot expect a hundred percent objectivity from the state/municipal media. When forming their news feed, the management of the media company will always be guided exclusively by the interests of their employer. Anything that is not in their interest will be completely or partially removed from the news feed. This applies to both domestic and foreign policy content formation. No one will work to his own detriment, but will certainly use the subordinate resource to achieve the political and economic goals of interest.
The situation with private media is different, because they are run by free entrepreneurs, but the concept of “profit” is present here as well. This is how the market economy works – do what is profitable or lose. Private entrepreneurs depend on advertisers, which are also state/municipal institutions. If an entrepreneur, the owner of a media resource, has the opportunity to regularly receive state, municipal or party orders for advertising, coverage of any events or content creation, he will certainly take advantage of this opportunity. Therefore, he can no longer be independent in his actions – publishing something against the “mainstream” will backfire on him – he will lose a reliable client. In addition, this owner of a media resource may himself be a member, supporter or sponsor of some party (in exchange for receiving some additional benefit not directly related to his media enterprise).
Here we should add that in addition to the mainstream, there is always the so-called “opposition media,” but even here we will not find objectivity, because they too will only pursue their own interests – to publish only what is “against”.
So we come to the final conclusion that objective news information most likely does not exist, either in any country or in any single source (as far as the big players are concerned). This is neither good nor bad. It is simply the way the economic and political model of modern society is structured – it excludes such a possibility. It is naive to believe that “they” (whoever “they” are and wherever they are) necessarily have propaganda, while “we” have the absolute truth. In fact, propaganda is everywhere.
What should we do?
First, if you’re still interested in news, it’s best to use a variety of sources. Over time, you can learn to understand who is bending which line. This is determined by the nature of the resource’s news feed itself. Think about who is criticized/praised the most, who is most often the best/villain. Find the antagonist source – meaning the publication that covers the same events, but from the opposite angle. Most likely the truth will be somewhere in the middle, but not on either side.
Second, develop a meditative mind – yoga techniques to help you. The problem is that all of the above is obvious to many people, but we tend to be polarized. Often, we ourselves like to read only what is pleasing to the ear. We do not want to hear something that is not according to our values, even if there is some truth in it. So in yoga we achieve a neutral mindset – we learn how to accept but not resist information. We calmly look at different arguments and make a balanced decision. These qualities do not come out of a person’s mind by themselves, they have to be trained by special exercises.
Third, develop your intuition. If your mind is calm, your inner lighthouse is sure to point the way to the truth. When media users themselves develop awareness, then any manipulation by the press (or rather, by their managers) will be irrelevant. I am sure that today we have every opportunity to reach the truth, but we need to work on ourselves and make concrete actions and efforts to do so. Bare discourse “about great things” alone will not help here.