Grey Propaganda

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Microphones-2-.jpg This article is part of the Propaganda Portal project of Spinwatch.
Grey Propaganda is a type of Propaganda where the correct source of the information is never directly credited and the sponsor’s identity is concealed. This is in contrast to Black Propaganda, where the source of the Propaganda is falsely attributed to a different sponsor in a deceptive fashion, and White Propaganda, where identity of the sponsor is clear and their motives are transparent [1]. Defined by its lack of clear source, the information contained in Grey Propaganda does not necessarily have to be inaccurate; it could be true or false [2].


The aim of Grey Propaganda is to promote the viewpoint of the concealed sponsor in a way that is more palatable to the target audience, working under the assumption that ideas presented by seemingly neutral and inconspicuous outlets would be more persuasive than clear measures of propaganda. Common practice for Grey Propagandists is to circulate an article in a publication, detailing no source. Another means of Grey Propaganda is the anonymous funding or provision of material assistance to groups that further the Propagandist’s agenda [3].

Grey Propaganda in wartime situations is often associated with broader campaigns of Psychological Warfare and Psychological Operations [4].


Reported Examples of Grey Propaganda

Second World War



Newspaper Publishing

As part of the United Kingdom’s propaganda initiative during the Second World War, the Political Warfare Executive, Britain’s clandestine propaganda organisation, commissioned the production of German-language newspapers to be airdropped onto the German front lines. One such Grey Propaganda newspaper which did not attribute its source, Nachrichten fur die Truppen, allowed the concealed sponsors to express views they could not otherwise do in a legitimate British source [5].


Cold War



Grey Broadcasting

As part of the United States Government’s propaganda efforts during the Cold War, radio stations were commissioned to transmit Grey Propaganda broadcasts to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. These stations were in-part supported by the American Central Intelligence Agency, but never revealed their true sponsors. Grey Propaganda stations like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty provided listeners throughout the Iron Curtain with news and entertainment broadcasting, aiming to improve attitudes towards democracy and free-market economics.

The Soviet Union’s propaganda efforts during the Cold War also included Grey Propaganda broadcasting, with its state-funded Radio Peace and Freedom aimed at Western audiences [6].


Resources

  • Debra Kelly (2014), The Difference Between Gray, White And Black Propaganda: Comparative definition of Grey Propaganda
  • David Miller 'Aerial combat: The London Radio Service is the Foreign Office's least known propaganda unit, supplying foreign stations with government 'fact'.' David Miller tunes in, New Statesman and Society, 18 November 1994.
  • SourceWatch, Propaganda: Overview of Propaganda types
  • Wikipedia, Propaganda: Propaganda overview and links to other sources
  • Kenneth Osgood (2002), Propaganda: Good overview of different propaganda types
  • What-When-How, Gray Propaganda: Overview of a variety of Grey Propaganda initiatives

Notes

  1. Debra Kelly, The Difference Between Gray, White And Black Propaganda, KnowledgeNuts website, 12 February 2014, accessed 12 March 2015
  2. Caryn Neumann, Propaganda, Uses and Psychology, FAQS website, accessed 12 March 2015
  3. Kenneth Osgood (2002), Propaganda, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy website, accessed 12 March 2015
  4. William Levinson (1999), An Introduction to Propaganda, The Stentorian website, accessed 12 March 2015
  5. What-When-How, Gray Propaganda, What-When-How website, accessed 12 March 2015
  6. SourceWatch, Propaganda, SourceWatch website, accessed 12 March 2015