Media Manipulation Exposed in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant Essay

Media Manipulation Exposed in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”The phrase “the power of the press” is used often, but what exactly is the power of the press? Since the beginning of news reporting, it’s been known that what actually gets into the news reports is monitored and carefully picked by higher authorities. What isn’t widely known, however, is that the media can use specific wording and phrases that, on the surface, look like normal news coverage, but are actually a technique of the media to control the images people see and the words they hear and read. From this, people then form their ideals, but are these actually ideals of those people if the media from which they based them off of was controlled to begin with? It is the power of the press to control and manipulate the public’s ideals by what is released in the media.

In childhood, it’s evident from the start that the parents are the ones who hold the power. As the child grows and develops, the parents show him that they are in control by correcting the things he does wrong and by making it clear that they know more than he does about life. Until the child is old enough to create his own ideals of what is right and what is wrong, the parents shape his ideals for him. As the child grows older, however, the parents relinquish this hold on him and allow him to form his own ideals of the world around him. But as he ventures out in the world, is he actually forming his own ideals, or is he still being shaped by an even larger, more powerful source?

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In George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant, Orwell suggests just that; one can form his own ideals, but they will either be changed by the media (symbolized in his essay by the Burmese natives) or constructed from…

…d and has left them with only the ideals which the press wanted them to have in the first place. The power of the press is not to share the truth about everything; it is the power to control what everyone thinks about everything.

Works Cited

Crocker, Brandon. “What Really Matters.” The American Spectator. 11 May 2004.

Farah, May. Rev. of About Baghdad, pro. Sinan Antoon. The Daily Star. 30 June 2004.

Franklin, H. Bruce. “From Realism to Virtual Reality: Images of America’s Wars.” The Brief Arlington Reader. Ed. Nancy Perry. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 384-400.

Murphy, Maureen Clare. Rev. of Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land, dir. Bathsheba Ratzkoff & Sut Jhally. The Electronic Intifada 26 March 2004.

Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant.” The Brief Arlington Reader. Ed. Nancy Perry. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 334-339.

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