AUSTRALIA’S political parties are using a range of media, including television and the internet, to spread propaganda, new research shows.
Key points:The study by political scientists at Monash University and the University of Melbourne found “a strong tendency for the parties to employ propaganda as a tool of political persuasion”The researchers said there was a “clear and growing” trend for political parties to use “sustained and systematic use of propaganda”The findings are contained in a paper entitled “What is propaganda?”
The Monash researchers used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to examine the amount of media coverage of various political parties over the past two decades.
They used data to identify the types of media the parties use, the amount and frequency of political advertisements, and the amount spent on advertising campaigns.
They also examined the political ideologies of Australians who were exposed to the political advertisements.
The researchers say that while there is evidence that some parties do use propaganda, the study is the first to quantify this, as well as to examine whether this propaganda can be used to influence public opinion.
“Our findings suggest that the parties are increasingly using propaganda to achieve their political goals,” the researchers wrote.
“There is an increasing trend for the political parties, in particular, the Liberal Party, to engage in sustained and systematic, and sometimes highly selective, use of political propaganda in their political campaigns.”
The paper’s co-author, political scientist Dr Andrew Gellatly, said there were a range.
“It’s all of the traditional forms of media that they’ve been using to communicate, to get the message across,” he said.
“They’ve been engaging in the social media, the online and in print, and so on.”
What we’ve seen is they’ve all used propaganda as an effective means of communicating.
“Dr Gelland said the findings suggested that while the parties were not using propaganda as it had been described, there was evidence that there was an increasing tendency for them to do so.”
The trends we’ve observed over the last 20 years have been consistent with that,” he explained.”
In the last 10 years, the Liberals have become a lot more active in using the media to engage with their supporters and to get out there and engage with people who have been sceptical of them.
“Dr George Eustace, director of research at the Monash School of Government, said the paper showed how the political classes “can use propaganda” but that there were other ways they could use it.”
This is a case where it is very much about their message and their message is the message that they have to communicate to people,” he told the ABC.”
So I think this is something they’ve developed a lot of ability to do and it’s certainly something they have a great deal of control over.
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