New Login   

Saima Saeed

By Anthony DiMaggio
Aakar Books , Monthly Review Press (2009), New Delhi, 2012, pp. 384, Rs. 795.00


In this riveting book set against the backdrop of the war that the United States waged in Iraq and its military interventions in Iran and Afghanistan, DiMaggio examines the role of media in supporting, legitimizing and building pro-war public opinion in support of America. In constructing this radical critique of these wars, DiMaggio invokes a variety of neo-Marxist media literature on the subject, chiefly the ‘propaganda model’ powerfully expounded by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. Contrary to what the introduction argues, this model has received much critical attention at least in the Global South. Gramsci’s seminal theorization of hegemony provides the essential lens through which to examine the constructivist notion of the news-making process that hides grotesque war propaganda under the fallacious veneer of the objectivity tradition of journalistic form and professional practice. Similar to much of the Leftist media scholarship and critical thinking, and of late, the political economic approach to linking media ownership to manifest content, When Media Goes to War, too examines how the military-capitalist state complex has carefully instituted a propagandist news media that primarily helps keep the propaganda state buoyant.  Chapters three, four and five provide the substantive elucidation of how media coverage of the war in Iraq as a result of ‘the administration’s heavy-handed news management tactics’ (p. 119) created a discourse of the brutality of the enemy and therefore the justification of the U.S. policy in the Middle East, in particular the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Chapter four unearths the dangerous liaison between press and politics. It shows how ‘journalistic propaganda’ (p. 121) swivels between official censorship, heightened nationalistic zeal and indoctrination of reporters right from the time they are trained in a journalism school. The sharp comparison between the British and American journalistic ‘norms’, in this case their coverage of the United States’ military action in Iraq, puts in perspective the social production of news and how reporters cover political events. Much space is devoted to tracing the history of propaganda with allusions made to journalist Edward Bernays’ classic work Propaganda, Lippmann’s Public Opinion, as also to early communication theorists like Harold Lasswell and Paul Lazarsfeld. The facile nature of journalistic commitment to objectivity is made apparent when DiMaggio concludes that the reporters in both the British and the American media, the ‘two of the most powerful, wealthiest, and best-paying ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.