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Loved on the left, hated on the right Noam Chomsky is a respected linguistic scholar while at the same time being a respected and prolific political writer. His book Manufacturing Consent is often cited as the be all and end of all for explanations on how Mass Media controls what we think.

Step by detailed step he delves into how it is not any particular group or conspiracy that controls the media but by the very nature of Mass Media being a corporate entity that it censors itself. Print, radio, TV are all now run by corporate Empires that distort the news coverage — i.e. what types of news, which items, and how they are reported — because of the profit motive that requires establishing a stable, profitable business. Therefore, news businesses favoring profit over the public interest succeed, while those favoring reportorial accuracy over profits fail, and are relegated to the margins of their markets (low sales and ratings).

It sounds complicated but if its your thing, Manufacturing Consent is a great read. However not everyone enjoys Chomsky’s total attention to detail  that often distracts from the message of the book. So for those who want to have a more detailed understanding of his message but can’t handle his style there are two alternatives that I’ve found maximize the understanding of Chomsky without reading Chomsky.

Manufacturing Consent (1993)

Yes Manufacturing Consent the movie. Don’t worry its not a dramatized tale or Hollywood factory film. The Director Mark Achbar goes through the theory of Manufacturing Consent via a visual astounding documentary that also gives some sort of background on the celebrated author. Through interviews with Chomsky, footage of questions & answer periods after his lectures and lots of talking heads, Achbar is able to present the concept in accessible and not pretentious way.

Chomsky’s Politics

Chomsky’s Politics is a book written by Milan Rai to address criticism levelled on Chomsky by various individuals and groups. This book is almost a Coles Notes for Chomsky as by addressing each criticism of Chomsky Rai first explains the issue and then why or cites a specific time Chomsky dismantled so and so’s argument.