Can we believe what we read in the newspapers? Are we fed lies, propaganda, subliminal messages?

They are not all as honest as very cheap car insurance site <G>

The fight for press freedom has been ongoing for decades; almost as long as when the media started reaching out to a mass audience in the 19th century. Ironically, suppression of the content in newspapers has been history repeating itself starting with the first and oldest newspaper in America. ‘Publick Occurrences’ was published in Boston in 1690 without authorization; right after it was distributed, it was banned, its publisher was arrested and all copies were destroyed.

Fast forward a few centuries later, newspapers in certain authoritarian countries are still being banned by governments in power if they “get out of line”. Of course the mass media has evolved in a profound manner in the last ten years thanks to technology. From the advent of printing in the 16th century, which enabled news to be printed and distributed in large quantities to the innovation of the internet in the 20th century, which empowered a new dynamic group of individual news bloggers today, the debate about control is still very much unchanged after all these centuries.

Before we put the cart before the horse, we need to understand how the media operates and who owns it. We also need to understand its structure and organization, such as where it gets its news from and who determines what is published in the news every day. There is certainly a great element of power at work; from the ownership and structure of media organizations to the daily process of news gathering.

What we read in the newspaper every morning is just the last phase and the final result of all these invisible forces at work.


In America, the media is privately owned by large conglomerates, many of which own a banner of newspaper publications, television and radio networks, television cable networks and production houses. Companies of the same owners often share distinctive corporate philosophies and sometimes, similar political leanings. There are approximately 100 daily newspaper publications in America and many are owned by companies that are subsidiaries of large media conglomerates. Despite the great diversity of television networks and channels, newspapers and radio available in America, there are only a surprisingly few companies that own them all. So, what may be a great diversity of viewpoints may only be the same viewpoint expressed in different forms.


The source of local news for many newspapers comes from reports gathered by on-ground reporters; international news comes from either news gathering efforts of offshore journalists or international news agencies.

These news agencies gather or compile news in different parts of the world, either through their foreign correspondents or through liaisons with local newspapers in different countries. Thanks to globalization, there are about 40 international new agencies now as compared to less than 10 about a decade ago. The angle of news gathered would really depend on the news agency from which the newspaper gets its news from. For example, a Chinese news agency would take a more pro government angle to a piece of news in China as compared to an American news agency. Similarly, a news agency from America would be more interested in the number of casualty and impact on America when covering a war in Iraq as compared to a news agency from Iraq.

As for the local operations of the news desk in a publication, their main task is to cover a particular assignment and write about it in the most balanced journalistic style they were taught in college. Of course, their copies will be edited by the copy editor and the chief editor, so that is an aspect of the operation they have little control over.

News Gathering

Much like captains of a ship, editors are captains in the newspaper business. They determine the angle of the news and decide on what goes on the front page and which story should be continued. They are individuals who have worked many years in the newspaper industry; many would have started their careers as journalists or field reporters and climbed their way to the top because of hard work and good performance. When they decide on the content, they are influenced by their readership, management, competitors and inevitably, their own discretion and opinions.

So to address the question as to whether we are fed lies, propaganda and subliminal messages in the newspaper, the answer would have to be, yes to a certain extent. However, it is hard to define ‘whose’ lies we are fed and whether they are intended on purpose.


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