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Evaluating News: Propaganda

This LibGuide was created to help you evaluate the news around you, teach you to identify Fake News, Biased News, Satirical News, and Propaganda

Propaganda Definition

Propaganda is the spreading of rumors, information (false or correct ), or an idea in order to influence the opinion of the society. It may advance an idea or bring it into disrepute. Writers use propaganda as a literary technique to manipulate the public opinion for or against an idea. In history, we can search a profusion of literary works used as propaganda to shape the public perceptions, and direct their behavior to get a response. Generally, propaganda is a technique for convincing people,  it is misleading in nature and promotes a viewpoint or a political cause.

"Propaganda - Examples and Definition of Propaganda." Literary Devices. N.p., 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <>.

Propaganda Critic

Propaganda Critic Screen Capture

TEDx Talk on Astroturfing & Propaganda

In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages. 

Propaganda Fire2 by LKaras Work

Propaganda Analysis & Critic

Word Games

Name Calling - A device to make us form a judgment without examining the evidence in which it should be based.  Here the propagandist appeals to our hate and fear.  He does this by giving “bad names” to those individuals, groups, nations, races, policies, practices, beliefs, and ideals which he would have us condemn and reject.

Glittering Generalities – This device allows the propagandist to identify his program with virtue by use of “virtue word.”  Here he appeals to our emotions of love, generosity, and brotherhood. He uses words like truth, freedom, honor, liberty, social justice, public service, loyalty, progress, democracy, the American way, examples of words that suggest shining ideals.

Euphemisms – Name Calling and Glittering Generalities are devices that use vivid, emotionally suggestive words to arouse the crowd to the propagandist way of thinking. In other situations, the propagandist attempts to pacify the audience to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic.

False Connections

Transfer – A device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, Sanction and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. Symbols such as the cross and the Christian Church, the Flag, Uncle Sam are used to transfer the authority, sanction, and prestige to something which otherwise we would reject.

Testimonial – This device relies on the use of an expert, celebrity, or perceived expert to offer reasons why something should be believed.  The credibility of the personality is transferred to the item or campaign.  This also works in reverse based on the same premise that you will relate to the testimonial because of your belief in the person making the testimonial.

Special Appeals

Plain Folks – Used by politicians, labor leaders, businessmen, and even ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people just like the common person. This device is used to show how normal they or their products is by comparing it to everyday events and places.

Bandwagon – This device makes us want to follow the crowd to just accept the propagandist’s program on mass. He directs his appeal to groups held together by common ties of nationality, religion, race, environment, sex, and vocation to harnessing the fears and prejudices and biases and ideals common to the group to get everyone in the group to join his cause.

Card Stacking or Fear – A device where all of the arts of deception are used to win our support. He stacks the cards against the truth or for his cause by using half-truths and featuring only the good elements. For a successful fear campaign to work you must have a threat, a recommendation to fix the problem, people to see that the fix will work, and people to believe they can be the fix.

Information borrowed from:

Delwiche, Aaron. "Propaganda critic: index of site dedicated to propaganda analysis." Propaganda critic: index of site dedicated to propaganda analysis. N.p., 28 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <>.

“How to Detect Propaganda.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955), vol. 24, no. 1, 1938, pp. 49–55.