The new generation of state-controlled media aims to consolidate domestic opinion by enhancing the prestige of what used to be understood—by outsiders and citizens alike—as propaganda. Many Russians believe the news and analysis on RT is legitimate if a program also features American talking heads. Similarly, many Arabs believe that Al Jazeera must be like real news, because the production values are similar to those of CNN.
Our “Information Age” features not only the “competition for eyeballs’ — for advertising revenue, influence, and prestige — but a competition for the seduction of minds. Lee Smith’s piece covers the related state of affairs in middle east reporting.