The implications of internet communications for democracy
Noam Chomsky is a renowned philosopher, political commentator and activist. He has written extensively on the topics of media, propaganda and corporate power. In this essay, I will be summarising and critically evaluating his article 'Consent and Internet Communications'. In this article, Chomsky presents a natural expansion on the ideas about how information about the world is transmitted to the public. He begins by discussing how traditional journalism acts as a means of shaping public views. He then goes on to discuss how the internet can be used in a similar way, before finally discussing the implications of this for democracy.
2. The nature of the beast: journalism as a means of shaping public views
Chomsky begins by discussing how traditional journalism acts as a means of shaping public views. He points to the fact that journalism has always been controlled by powerful interests, and that the content of news has always been shaped by these interests. He argues that the internet has not changed this fundamental fact, but has merely made it easier for these interests to control the flow of information. He points to the fact that most news outlets are now owned by large corporations, and that these corporations have a vested interest in promoting their own agendas. As such, he argues that the content of news is often biased in favour of these agendas.
He goes on to discuss how journalists are under immense pressure to produce stories that are 'newsworthy'. He argues that this often leads them to focus on stories that are sensationalist or contain negative elements, as these are more likely to capture attention. This, in turn, leads to a distorted view of reality, as the most 'newsworthy' stories are not necessarily representative of what is actually happening in the world.
3. How does the internet fit into this?
Chomsky then goes on to discuss how the internet can be used in a similar way to traditional journalism, in order to shape public views. He points to the fact that blogs and alternative news services have become increasingly popular in recent years. He argues that these platforms provide people with an alternative source of information, which is not controlled by corporate interests. However, he also notes that these platforms are often far less concise than traditional news sources, and that they can sometimes be unreliable.
4. What are the implications of this for democracy?
Finally, Chomsky discusses the implications of this for democracy. He argues that if people are only getting their information from sources that are biased or unreliable, then they will not be able to make informed decisions about who to vote for or what policies to support. This could lead to dangerous consequences, as people may end up voting for politicians who do not have their best interests at heart. Chomsky concludes by calling for greater media literacy, so that people can learn to identify biased or unreliable sources of information.
In conclusion, Chomsky's article 'Consent and Internet Communications' presents a natural expansion on the ideas about how information about the world is transmitted to the public. He discusses how traditional journalism and the internet can be used to shape public views, before finally discussing the implications of this for democracy.