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Reading: ‘Smooth Operator?’ The Propaganda Model and Moments of Crisis


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‘Smooth Operator?’ The Propaganda Model and Moments of Crisis


Des Freedman

Goldsmiths, University of London
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The propaganda model is a powerful tool for explaining systematic flaws in media coverage. But does it explain the cracks and tensions within the commercial media that are capable of arising at moments of political crisis and elite disagreement? To what extent does the model privilege a flawless structuralist account of media power at the expense of focusing on contradictory dynamics inside the capitalist media? This article looks at a key moment where critical media content was generated by a mainstream media organization: the coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War in the British tabloid paper, the Daily Mirror in 2003. It reflects on the consequences of such a moment for resisting corporate media power and asks whether it suggests the need for a revision of the propaganda model or, rather, provides further validation of its relevance.

How to Cite: Freedman, D., 2009. ‘Smooth Operator?’ The Propaganda Model and Moments of Crisis. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 6(2), pp.59–72. DOI:
Published on 01 Oct 2009.
Peer Reviewed


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