• Notes & Activities
  • Vocabulary

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Notes & Activities:

The Definition of Propaganda:

The Heinemann Dictionary defines propaganda as: "opinions, principles, etc, especially biased or false ones, spread or publicized to persuade, change or reform."

The Longman Dictionary spells it out even clearer:  "false information that a political organization gives to the public to influence them."

So, to break it down, propaganda is:

  • false information
  • spread to the public
  • to persuade or influence them
  • into accepting a particular philosophy or agenda  

The Purpose of Propaganda:

The ultimate goal of propaganda is to indoctrinate people, i.e. to make someone accept a system of thought uncritically. 

Propaganda is mainly used by political leaders who want to sway people to their point of view.

The propaganda message is carefully selected and reinforced to produce an emotional (rather than rational) response. 

The emotions most commonly targeted are:

  • Fear
  • Suspicion 
  • Pride
  • Patriotism

To better understand what propaganda is and how it works, fill in the missing words:


Propaganda

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Activity 1:



Complete the following exercise:


Propaganda (Exercise 1)


Answers - Propaganda (1)

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Characteristics of a Propaganda Message:

Propaganda is most effective when it comes from a trusted leader who clearly identifies an enemy as a target for hatred and differentiates clearly between "us" and "them".  They repeat key phrases again and again.

Propaganda message may:

  • Contain truthful claims or blatant lies or a mixture of both;
  • Exaggerate or fabricate incidents;
  • Use facts selectively and ignore whatever contradicts their claims;
  • Use one-sided arguments without any attempt to understand alternative views;
  • Contain illogical arguments;
  • Demonize leaders or supporters of other political / ethnic groups.


North Korean Propaganda

Interesting to note:

According to North Korea's official biography of Kim Jong-Il, under whose leadership these propaganda messages were made, the Dear Leader learned to walk by the age of three weeks, talk by eight weeks, and he wrote his first manifesto on the future of the Korean people by the age of two.

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Activity 2:



Complete the following exercise:


Propaganda (Exercise 2)


Answers - Propaganda (2)

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An Example of Propaganda in Action:

The best example we have of the use of propaganda comes from Hitler's Nazi Germany.



Joseph Goebbels was a master of propaganda.  As the German Propaganda Minister during World War II, he successfully manipulated the German people into following Adolf Hitler.  He was so effective that he was able to persuade millions of Germans to accept a philosophy that was based on hatred.



He used many media to carry across his propaganda message, including:

Newspapers:



Radio:



Magazines:



Cinema:



Political Speeches:



No matter which media he used, the message was always the same.  The German people heard what the Nazi's wanted them to hear, and they came to believe it unquestioningly. 

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Activity 3:



Complete the following exercise:


Propaganda (Exercise 3)


Answers - Propaganda (3)

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Explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website on propaganda at the following link:

http://www.ushmm.org/propaganda/exhibit.html#/themes/

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Activity 4:



Complete the following exercise:


Propaganda (Exercise 4)


Answers - Propaganda (4)

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Studying Propaganda:

It is important to study propaganda to understand how and why it is used.  In so doing, we develop the skill of critical thinking and are better equipped to evaluate the media messages we receive.  It helps us to see through the slogans of power-hungry individuals who seek to manipulate others.


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Activity 5:



Complete the following comprehension:


Comprehension: Propaganda


Comprehension: Propaganda (Memo)

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Vocabulary:



You will never be able to master a subject if you don't have the vocabulary to support it.  So, please learn the following words (contained in these notes).  You will be examined on them.


Vocab Quiz - Propaganda