May 27, 2022

New journal launches to provide an academic counterbalance to pervasive global propaganda

“Only when We the People finally know what propaganda is, and how it works, will we be free at last to live our lives and rule ourselves.”

A new online journal, Propaganda in Focus, has been launched, aimed at providing expert commentary and analysis covering all aspects of propaganda.

The line-up of contributors includes Professor Mark Crispin Miller, Professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Professor Tim Hayward, Dr Richard Ellefritz, Dr Greg Simons and Katharine Gun, the GCHQ whistleblower. 

Propaganda in Focus provides a forum for expert opinion and analysis about propaganda and its consequences, facilitating debate over more democratic and progressive forms of organised persuasive communication and censored scholarship.

“Its aim is to not only facilitate understanding of the strategies and tactics deployed by propagandists, but to also engender fuller and more open debate of the issues and subject areas that have been marginalised or suppressed because of the pernicious effects of propaganda and its role in terms of feeding and underpinning broader ideological narratives,” a statement from editors Daniel Broudy, Piers Robinson and Ben Lindsley said.

The editors said they recognised the emergence of global oppression and systematic censorship, and the urgent need for public debate without vested interests controlling it.

“We encourage free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas and dialogues in theories and practices.”

The journal website includes sections on health, corporate media, war and conflict, technocracy, academia, society and theory and practice.

“This is in response to an increase in the use and effects of propaganda on mass audiences by governments and other powerful groups – such as the recent events of the pandemic and Ukraine War have demonstrated,” says Greg Simons.

Greg Simons, communications expert and associate professor and researcher at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University, said the online magazine came about because a group pf academics wanted to make the understanding of how propaganda and censorship work more publicly accessible. The content is written in a more ‘popular science’ style for this reason.

“This is in response to an increase in the use and effects of propaganda on mass audiences by governments and other powerful groups – such as the recent events of the pandemic and Ukraine War have demonstrated.”

His involvement was also based on a personal motivation to address the devastation caused by global propaganda campaigns, and an inability to do the necessary work through academic and popular science channels, he said.

Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, who has taught courses on media and propaganda since 1997, said in an article for the launch that for those who study propaganda critically and act as public intellectuals on the matter, the last two years had been “uniquely challenging”.

In the past, western propaganda was an intensive, episodic practice that could be observed in wartime, during political campaigns and in the aftermath of state crimes like the JFK assassination and 9/11, but today they are non-stop, global affairs.

What used to be intermittent, with sometimes decades between one propaganda drive and the next, has become a strategy of “serial bombardment”, he said.

Media studies professor Mark Crispin Miller on why people need to educate themselves about how propaganda is used so they can identify and critique it for themselves.

“We must re-conceive and rebuild all our democratic institutions, whose absolute collapse has brought this whole world to the brink. Specifically, we need to rebuild journalism, so that it actually reports the news, just as we need a whole new medical establishment — one that will reclaim its Hippocratic duty to make people well instead of very profitably sick (or dead). And, of course, we need a new Academy, to educate its students, not indoctrinate them, teaching them not what to think but how to think …

“Only when We the People finally know what propaganda is, and how it works, will we be free at last to live our lives and rule ourselves.”

The launch of the journal comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden announced the creation of a Disinformation Governance Board, which was abandoned after intense criticism for being a real-life Ministry of Truth (referencing George Orwell’s novel 1984).

Sweden has also announced an Orwellian Psychological Defence Agency, dedicated to preventing and countering “malign information” and “disinformation”.

A recent report from New Zealand’s The Disinformation Project, a government funded research unit, warned that we need to crack down on the free speech of those critical of the government’s covid response to stop the spread of ‘disinformation’ and ‘conspiracy theory’.

This week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to an audience at Harvard University in the United States, arguing that governments need to force the tech giants to censor more, to save democracy.

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