Threats to journalism and journalistic autonomy come in many forms. At the most extreme, journalists are directly threatened, intimidated and, all too frequently, harmed by political actors seeking to influence the ‘information environment’.
As a form of coercion, aimed at controlling what journalists write and say, threats and attacks can be understood as a form of propaganda: as a kind of ‘propaganda of the deed’ they function not only to silence individual journalists but also to send an unequivocal message to other journalists.
More common forms of propaganda involve approaches to shaping perceptions and actions through the manipulation of information. Although of a different scale to threats and killings, their effect can also be profoundly damaging to the autonomy of journalists. Understood by some to refer to any form of persuasive communication, most definitions of propaganda throughout the 20th and 21st century have recognised that, at some level, propaganda is a form of persuasion that works via manipulation and subversion of the rational will. (more...)