Agenda Setting, Associated Press, Cognitive, Greenwald, Influence, Iran, Journalism, McCombs, Mean World Sydrome, Media Effects, Media Literacy, Nuclear Weapons, Propaganda
Late last month the world, and Americans in particular, were subject to an ongoing propaganda campaign designed to further the cause for war against Iran using the media. On November 27th, Associated Press (AP) correspondent and bureau chief George Jahn authored AP: Diagram Suggests Iran Working on Nuclear Bomb which was published with an accompanying graphic “leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named” (Jahn, 2012).
Examination of the graphic has shown that it can be found in common text books and on the internet, and further, that it’s flawed in its calculations (Greenwald, 2012). Greenwald interviews a number of different authorities on the topic who conclusively disprove the alleged authority of the graphic.
Therefore it appears as though the credibility of the reporter comes into question as well as “this isn’t the first time George Jahn has regurgitated dubious claims from diplomats critical of Iran. On September 11 of this year a nearly identical “exclusive” was published by AP…under Mr. Jahn’s byline, despite the fact that all the information contained within came from the November 2011 report, issued nearly a year prior. The article asserted that new ‘intelligence shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years” (Business Insider, 2012).
Jahn could appear to be using his position as an AP bureau chief to facilitate the agenda of a foreign nation, a similar agenda that has led to great losses internationally over the past 10 years. A quick Google Scholar search using the terms “George+Jahn+Iran” show that Jahn has been key author on many AP Iranian related stories going at least 10 years back, most of them focused on the issue of nuclear weapons. In his position at AP he has the potential of placing influential news on the dining roomtable, on the television, on the radio, or on the World Wide Web for global consumption. As a result, he also has an obligation to check the facts provided for him by a third party. The AP was founded in 1846 as a non-profit cooperative to share news between media organizations. As of 2005 it provides material to more than 1,400 newspapers, and 5,001 television and radio broadcasters. It operates 243 news bureaus globally and serves at least 120 countries (Wikipedia, 2012; Associated Press, 2012). In an establishment such as this, an agenda can shape or reinforce opinions worldwide via a single impactful, credible story or through the continuous drip of subtle messaging, thus telling a population what to think about.
McCombs observed that much of what people know about the world comes from various media sources, which is reinforced in direct proportion to the amount of emphasis the media place on a topic (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Cognitively that means people are exposed to biased information designed to reinforce fear and shape attitudes. As discussed in the previous post, It’s a Mean World! Or is it?, the use of fear can easily manipulate and control a population, which makes them more susceptible to hard-line actions taken on their “behalf” (Associated Press, 2006; Associated Press, 2006; Heller, 2012). Jahn’s unquestioned facilitation of this agenda without checking his sources calls his credibility and professionalism as a journalist into question, regardless of how well established he may be. Indeed, it also reflects poorly on the AP as an organization that should be double and triple checking its facts before publishing them. Greenwald agrees that journalists have an obligation to protect their sources – to a point. That “anonymity ends when the ‘sources’ use them to disseminate falsehoods. Indeed, the obligation to protect these sources not only ends, but a different obligation arises: to tell the public who fed them the hoax” (Greenwald, 2012).
Associated Press. (2012). FAQs. Retrieved Dec 14, 2012, from Associated Press: http://www.ap.org/company/FAQs
Associated Press. (2006, Jan 3). George Gerbner, 86, Researcher Who Studied Violence on TV, Is Dead. Retrieved Dec 9, 2012, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/03/obituaries/03gerbner.html?_r=1&
Associated Press. (2006, Jan 2). George Gerbner; Studied TV Culture. Retrieved Dec 9, 2012, from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/02/AR2006010200577.html
Business Insider. (2012, Dec 4). Iran Disinfo Watch: The AP Gets Thrown Another Curveball. Retrieved Dec 8, 2012, from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/iran-disinfo-watch-the-ap-gets-thrown-another-curveball-2012-12
Greenwald, G. (2012, Nov 29). AP’s dangerous Iran hoax demands an accounting and explanation. Retrieved Dec 8, 2012, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/29/ap-iran-nuclear-program-graph-explanation
Heller, K. (2012, Dec 9). It’s a Mean World! Or Is It? Retrieved Dec 14, 2012, from Media Psychology – Informing, Educating and Influencing: https://mediapsychology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/its-a-mean-world-or-is-it/
Jahn, G. (2012, Nov 27). AP: Diagram suggests Iran working on nuclear bomb. Retrieved Dec 7, 2012, from CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57554866/ap-diagram-suggests-iran-working-on-nuclear-bomb/
McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The Agenda-setting Function of Mass Media. Public Opinion Quarterly , 36 (2), 176–187.
Wikipedia. (2012, Dec 14). Associated Press. Retrieved Ded 14, 2012, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associated_Press#History