Controlling the Lens: The Media War Being Fought Over Ukraine Between the Western Bloc and Russia

The BBC and CNN versus RT


Global Research, March 27, 2014

Global Research 14 March 2014

Governments and major corporations control or, at least, try to manipulate public opinion and discursive processes through mass media communication. They also wage information wars through the use of mass media communication. Like other geopolitical events, this is the case concerning the Ukrainian anti-government protests and the proceeding February 2014 coup in Kiev. This information war is a contest where the international news networks and major newspapers act as armies, the weapons being used are the media, and the frontline is the interactive space known as the public sphere. Radio frequencies, air waves, satellite feeds, social media, cellular or mobile phone uploads, communication networks, and the internet are all part of the war.

What is an Information War?

Different technologies and modes of communication are used to enforce certain themes in the conflict. Language, selective words, particular expressions, specific pictures, multimedia presentations, and communication are all the ammunition for the war.

The aims of information warfare are to use discourse to influence populations across the world and to establish a total monopoly on the flow of information, the perceptions of audiences, and the discursive processes shaping the modern world. At its basis power and relationships are being realized through mass media communication.

The messages and ideas that the mass media transmit through mass communication are constructed by those that control the media and, in succession, used by them to construct the perceptions of audiences. Since what the majority of people in most modern societies know is heavily shaped by the mass media, the mass media is used to lead audiences into forming certain opinions and to make their decisions on the bases of those opinions. This is done either subtly or overtly through the delivery of repetitive messages.

The messages, being delivered to audiences by the mainstream media and information networks, are generally a form of social action, because the delivery of information by these outlets takes the reactions of audiences into account before any information is disseminated. The reactions that are taken into consideration include physical reactions or material processes. This also includes considerations about the manifestation of protests as a reaction to the information delivered or economic considerations such as investor withdrawals, currency devaluation, and market shifts.

Monopolizing the narrative being delivered to the public and discrediting alternative or rival narratives, be they true or false, is an important aspect of the information war. Although this form of warfare is not new, it is becoming increasingly sophisticated and intensifying as it becomes an important tactic in the tool box of non-conventional warfare that is becoming increasingly characteristic of the current century.

The type of information management that both privately-owned and publicly-owned major news networks seek eventually creates what social scientists call a common sense assumption that informs the actions and reactions of the audiences towards particular subjects and situations. These common sense assumptions are not based on any real facts that exist in the real world, but are formed on the basis of what has repeatedly been presented as fact and conventional knowledge. In the reporting of international affairs the deeply politicized messages being delivered to audiences have led to common sense attitudes that believe that Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims are bitter blood enemies or that Hugo Chavez was a autocrat or that there is an irreversible deep seated hatred between Serbs and Croats. None of these assumptions are grounded in reality, but it has slowly trickled into the canon of false assumptions that inform a segment of international audiences about international issues. Moreover, in many cases these messages are delivered under the disguise of apolitical neutral objectivity, which prevents large portions of the audience from questioning the motives and implications of the messages being transmitted.

Ukraine is currently a front, just as Syria and Venezuela are, in a global information war, which is being reflected through a battle of the international media networks. The objectives of this media war are to secure and manage domestic and international public opinion in support or opposition of the coup that took place in Kiev and the new Ukrainian transitional government in Kiev.

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