Many believe that mainstream Western newspapers such as WSJ, NYT, The Guardian, AP, etc. publish all the world's news without censorship (e.g. in the US perhaps due to freedom of the press).

What made me curious was the news of Iran's recent action in recapturing its own oil tanker Suez Rajan. Almost all Western media and newspapers published a news about this with something like the following titles:

NYT: Iranian Navy Says It Seized an Oil Tanker Off the Coast of Oman


WSJ: Iran Seizes Oil Tanker Linked to U.S. Sanctions Dispute

that you can find it even in second page of google. but when I google "US Seized Iran Oil Tanker Suez Rajan" nothing appeared as result. I found the following article with a very ridiculous title in just one newspaper:

WSJ: Iranian Oil Is Stuck Off Coast of Texas, but U.S. Firms Won’t Touch It

Or see this post about Yemen.

I want to know that this type of titles engineering, or censorship (of West bad news or good news of its enemies) is due to the pressure/policy/control of their governments, or do the owners of the newspapers do it by their own decision? But if they do it by their own decision, then why are they all in sync with each other? i.e. all of them publish a good news in very positive way and all of them decide to not publish anything about a bad (in view of the west) event.

  • 1
    politics.stackexchange.com/a/32675/24274 has a good answer
    – mic
    Commented Jan 12 at 21:06
  • I thought I would find good examples here, but I don't understand what is so interesting about the name of the ship. Has this any political meaning? As far as information content goes, the "Western" version has a higher density of useful information. And the link to censorship is very weak when there are so many other possible explanations. We need more statistics to say anything more significant. Commented Jan 12 at 21:57
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    Voting not to close - With concerns about fake news even in the west, and journalists themselves questioning the state of their profession today, there has been a lot of debate on this subject on how it impacts politics. So the Q is topical for our SE. As the examples cited are factual and relevant to the Q, it is a "good faith" effort, even if it could be considered as a propaganda by some.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 14 at 7:00
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    OP, please clarify whether you want to ask the general question about government influence/control of the media (and which media), or a specific question regarding the reporting of the siezure of oil tankers.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jan 14 at 13:03
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    politics.stackexchange.com/questions/68774/… You might be interested in the answer I wrote for this question.
    – Allure
    Commented Jan 14 at 15:46

9 Answers 9


As I understand, you are suspicious why some events are described by different publishers in very similar words. They may just use the same source.

A news agency is an organization that gathers news reports and sells them to subscribing news organizations, such as newspapers, magazines and radio and television broadcasters.

If the press does not have access to more information, own journalists at place, they may publish very similar content based on report from some notable news agency like Reuters they all subscribe. This does not mean that publishing something different is not permitted or that the text was provided by the government.


Kinda. Not of the kind that James's answer has already rebutted.

But our dear Noam Chomsky established his political chops with his 1988 Manufacturing Consent which indicates a number of ways Western governments end up with a press corps that prioritizes some contents over others.

Before going on, I need to clarify what I believe to be the limits of Chomsky's analysis. Basically, the effect mostly happens when there is a considerable popular consensus, on foreign policy about who the bad guys are. Outside that, it tends to break down because the press has a vested interest in selling coverage on controversial subjects. Take Covid, for example. Governments would have loved to push through their narrative - whatever it was - but there was a lot of resistance. Ditto climate change. Take the Gaza War. There is consensus, mostly, that Hamas are jerks. But there is no consensus that Israel is acting morally either and plenty of unsympathetic coverage about them.

When there is an unequivocal, agreed-upon bad guy, you see a phenomenon where the non-fringe press will not stick its neck out, unless government actions are controversial and unpopular, like sending boots on the ground. A good case where there was a failure that lines up with Chomsky would be the 2003 Iraq WMD claims.

Having said all, that I can't find much fault with his reasoning in this book, within those limits. As noted above, not everything runs the way he claims and the book is certainly biased *, but some of it does and you finding an oil ship incident prominently covered under the bad-Iran/good-West and having a hard time finding the same ship, different incident, that is more, arguably, more of a good-Iran/bad-West story is consistent with what the book postulates.

The book stated, correctly that US press would repeat front page coverage of a priest's murder in Poland, while relegating the murder of many clergy in Central America to small snippets in the 3rd or 4th pages. Contrasting coverage of those 2 events formed the backbone for the book's analysis, IIRC.

That's your ship in a nutshell.

I would also add that the, Western, coverage of this ship has already mentioned that it got seized on repeat, by both sides, so it's hardly kept secret or censored. Just not that promoted, shall we say.

The St Nikolas was seized in April by the US under its previous name, the Suez Rajan, as part of sanctions enforcement against Iran.

Also, when Western governments get caught trying to exercise direct censorship, it can backfire spectacularly, making them cautious about doing it. The Spycatcher book affair, under Thatcher, was a prime example (and could have coined the Streisand Effect by elevating its prospects from that of an obscure, mostly ignored, memoir to a highly talked about and purchased book).

English newspapers attempting proper reporting about Spycatcher's principal allegations were served gag orders; on persisting, they were tried for contempt of court. These charges were eventually dropped. Throughout all this, the book continued to be sold in Scotland; moreover, Scottish newspapers were not subject to any English gag order, and continued to report on the affair. Quantities of the book easily reached English purchasers from Scotland, while other copies were smuggled into England from Australia and elsewhere.

To get back to Manufacturing Consent, quoting Wikipedia directly:

The propaganda model for the manufacture of public consent describes five editorially distorting filters, which are said to impact reporting of news in mass communications media. These five filters of editorial bias are:

Size, ownership, and profit orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large profit-based operations, and therefore they must cater to the financial interests of the owners such as corporations and controlling investors. The size of a media company is a consequence of the investment capital required for the mass-communications technology required to reach a mass audience of viewers, listeners, and readers.

The advertising license to do business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de facto licensing authority."[11] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.

Sourcing mass media news: Herman and Chomsky argue that "the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media's costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers." Editorial distortion is aggravated by the news media's dependence upon private and governmental news sources. If a given newspaper, television station, magazine, etc., incurs disfavor from the sources, it is subtly excluded from access to information. Consequently, it loses readers or viewers, and ultimately, advertisers. To minimize such financial danger, news media businesses editorially distort their reporting to favor government and corporate policies in order to stay in business.[12][clarification needed]

Flak and the enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[12]

Anti-communism/war on terror: Anti-communism was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91) anticommunism was replaced by the "war on terror" as the major social control mechanism.

IMHO there's really a #6, possibly the biggest reason: if there is a broad popular consensus in country X that country Y is bad, X's uncensored press will typically not go out of its way to highlight valid reasons for Y's grievances. Nor will it headline cases of bad behavior by X concerning Y, on things that X's government would otherwise not get away with, if Y wasn't involved (say sponsoring death squads). Let's not upset readers/viewers and chase them to other channels. That would be unwarranted cognitive dissonance. Besides, it is notoriously confusing to non-specialist audiences to write too-nuanced, shades-of-grey, coverage. Much easier to keep it simply black and white. It's just not as much government-controlled as the other Chomsky factors, but it works well enough and is self-reinforcing, as long as the consensus holds.

Chomsky or consensus-based, this isn't censorship, which makes it hard to call out, it just the press-selected prioritization of articles: what's covered, what's not covered. What's front page, what's back page. 500 words? 50 words? Weekly vs mentioned once every six months?

Keep in mind as well, the consensus may exist for a reason. The CIA ran a nasty, deadly and unduly brutal campaign in Central America, true. One that should have been watched over much more closely by the press. But the USSR was a nasty and brutal opponent. Iran is not popular in the West for good reasons, such as beating women to death. From living in a city with a large Persian population: many of those - un-propagandized - expats are quite passionate in their dislike as I've seen firsthand from their frequent anti-Iran demonstrations. I've yet to see one supporting Iran's government.

* Bias: in the entire book, it is certainly bad-US, in the sense that entire book is centered about the US trying to make the Warsaw Pact (Poland, specifically) and USSR look bad. At some point, he asks "but what about Soviet censorship and misdeeds?". In a glib one paragraph dismissal, he basically says "yes, they suck, but this book isn't about them, so...".

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    Upvoted, but I have some squabbles with your lasts paragraphs. Sure, Iran is not popular in the USA (the UE is far less antagonistic to Iran), but that's due to their history with Iran. Let's not pretend we care for the treatment of their women; it's not different than in any other US ally in the region. And sure, every iranian expat is vehemently anti-Ayatollah. Just like all cubans in Miami are anti-Castro and every american expat I've known was a highly cultivated, open-minded individual who loved life in Spain: it's a self-selection bias.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jan 15 at 10:29
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    @Rekesoft Correct on both counts. I usually mention the 1953 CIA coup, to, IIRC, save UK's BP on its oil bills when I talk about US-Iran. And Cuban expats are notoriously irascible foam-at-mouth antiComs (I thought about them writings about those protests). But even if it were unjustified, that would still leave you with a consensus, just one for incorrect reasons. Mechanism remains. On Iran, I got my first start at cynicism in 88, reading a French book, "Des Armes pour l'Iran", covering illegal arms sale to Iran. The context was daily coverage of human wave, child attacks by nasty Iran Commented Jan 15 at 15:59
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    ... on doughty Iraq, which had tried to open peace talks and was just defending itself. Iraq was the last hope of the West and was well-supplied with gear. Remember: 1980 (revolution) > 1988 (me reading) > 1990 (Kuwait): Iran bad, Iraq good. So I open the book, reading in first pages that Saddam had fancied himself a Guderian and invaded. Now, I don't doubt for a long form news program would have mentioned that Iraq started it, if it had come up. It wasn't censored, no. But by then it was 5+ years of omission and no one wanted to mention it. It wasn't talked about, like Mosaddegh. Commented Jan 15 at 16:11
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    @user253751 - It's not hard to find critical coverage of Israel in the USA. American news outlets are quite willing to say that Israel has "decimated" Gaza, potentially violating the obligation to protect civilians, that it may have committed war crimes....
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jan 16 at 2:39
  • 2

I have been interviewed by the WSJ on a matter that wasn't of great political importance. I prepared and reviewed with colleagues a script of possible answers, so as not to incriminate my employer as unsupportive of government policy.

Despite all this preparation, my statement of "Some people say it's turning into a repeat of X, but what makes it different is Y" was abridged to "It's a repeat of X". That was neither what I wanted to say, nor the truth.

The editorial board took my complaint, but judged it to be part of editorial discretion. I had to self-publish a full transcript, to at least clear my name. If even trimming quotes to change their meaning is ethical - why wouldn't news outlets cherry-pick news they want to report?

Yes, there is self-censorship in news reporting. The modern world is highly partisan, every outlet has a particular agenda they support. They have no reason to publish news that don't support it.

As to whether that's censorship... On one hand, organizations are still free to say whatever they want, within reason. They might not get TV airtime, or donations, or ad revenue, but they can say their piece, as does Al Jazeera. It falls short of totalitarian censorship. But, on the other hand, it works.

  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Politics Meta, or in Politics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jan 30 at 8:55

There is the usual issue in your question of the division of the world in "The West" and "The non-West" (and are Japan and Australia part of "the West"?)

But taking this question's spirit the simple answer is "no". The government doesn't control the media in most countries of "The West".

In most Western countries it is commonplace for elements of the Media to criticize the government, to question and challenge the government and for the government to have no effective control what the Media publishes.

Now, naturally the government (in the wide sense) will want to get its opinions broadcast and they can attempt to influence the media. This is called "spinning", it is the process by which the government attempts to change and influence what and how The Media will report a story. If the government had the ability to control or censor, there would be no need to spin a story.

There is some formal censorship. Many countries have some form of control on what movies may be viewed by which age groups, but this is about censoring graphic violence or sexual imagery rather than political control. And there may be bodies that can censure (not censor) parts of the media in response to public complaints.

Finally, there is much greater control and censorship of foreign media. It is frequently the case that a foreign organisation will be prevented from publication in a Western country, if that organisation is viewed as being a part of a foreign government, and not an independent media organisation.

This doesn't mean that a particular media organisation doesn't have its own opinions and biases. Nor that the media in a country won't reflect the general biases of that country. You would expect US media to be generally "Pro-US", especially in any conflict that the US is having with a foreign power.

  • 3
    Another thing is that you've approached the answer as if the OP asked specifically about government control. You don't seem to have addressed, one way or the other, whether private (rich-owned) organisations are capable of controlling or censoring what is reported in the media.
    – Steve
    Commented Jan 12 at 21:05
  • 1
    How so? The first paragraph is not related, but I find the use of "The West" a lazy term, like "The Third World", as if all countries in "The Third World" are basically the same. The rest is the answer. "No" there isn't government censorship as there is in China or Iran. But that doesn't mean that all opinions will be given equal prominence. And the answer then explains how one can know this. If the government controlled the media, there wouldn't be the anti-government newspapers, not would there be the need for spinning. And it gives the examples of the limited censorship that exists.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 12 at 21:25
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    @Steve I think most people would reject the idea of "the tentacles of capitalism" altogether. India was a British colony; is it part of the West? What about the Philippines, which were an American colony for far longer than Japan was (and the Philippine status was more overt)?
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Jan 13 at 3:43
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    @C.F.G What’s lacking in this answer is the fact that many news outlets are often lazy. They don’t write 100% original content for every story. One way a lot of western news sounds the same is many outlets use wire services, which provide basic coverage that many outlets will mostly repeat without a lot of changes. The other thing that happens is outlets quote each other a lot. If their own reporters did not research a story, they will just quote the reporters from another outlet rather then send a whole team of their own. The first source says "seized" and then every headline has that word. Commented Jan 13 at 5:04
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    @prosfilaes, I don't think people regard India as Western because it isn't amongst the advanced capitalist nations - it still has people defecating publicly in the streets, which you don't have in Japan or Australia - and because it has not consistently aligned with West. The purpose anyway isn't to definitively place each specific country in or out, but to talk about where concentrations of strength are found. The US has a history of war and atrocities in the Philippines - it's not as much a white settler colony as say the US or Australia.
    – Steve
    Commented Jan 13 at 6:35

I want to know that this type of titles engineering, or censorship (of West bad news or good news of its enemies) is due to the pressure/policy/control of their governments, or do the owners of the newspapers do it by their own decision?

Governments in "Western" countries exert very little pressure/policy/control over the news media, although there is some variation from country to country, with less government control in some countries, and more in some other "Western" countries.

For example, there is more government influence over the media in the U.K. than in the U.S.

There are also rare "gag orders" pertaining usually to pending court cases and criminal investigations, aimed at preventing the news media from tainting or impairing those activities, and pertaining to disclosures by "embedded" reporters of national security information that could have tactical value to military adversaries of the country that the reporters are embedded with like the exact location of military units or the names of military personnel (that could be used to target those military units).

Also, while it is not actually true government control, there are certain widely held norms among news organizations in many countries about what should not be reported.

For example, many news organizations in the U.S. have a policy of not reporting the names of sexual assault victims without their consent.

But, there is very little government control over the reporting of the kind of international affairs and military activity news stories that were used as examples in the question.

Prepublication review of news stories by government officials, for example, is strictly forbidden by U.S. law.

But if they do it by their own decision, then why are they all in sync with each other? i.e. all of them publish a good news in very positive way and all of them decide to not publish anything about a bad (in view of the west) event.

Most mainstream news media sources rely for a significant share of their news reports on third-party reporting through consortia of news reporting companies such as the Associated Press and United Press International, which consolidate stories from member news outlets and release them to all members of the consortium through a news wire service. One or two or three reporters in the locality where the breaking news is happening may be responsible for 95% of what gets reported through the intermediary medium of news wires, all over the world.

For example, when I was a radio news reporter in college, we got about 95% of our stories from our news wire service (which we sometimes rewrote) and about 5% of our stories from original reporting of our own. I know, from several friends who are professional journalists, and from a stint in my adult life as a professional journalist myself, that this is little different in professional news organizations.

Another source of similarity between news reports that are not literally the same story distributed via a news wire service is the somewhat lazy practice sometimes known as "press release journalism."

In this practice, a news organization subscribes to all press releases from a variety of sources, such as selected government agencies, universities and academic journals, PR agencies, and big businesses. Many news organizations subscribe to the same sources of press releases.

Then, reporters and editors at the news organization pick and choose which press releases they see each day will be made into news stories (often utilizing similar standards about what is most newsworthy driven by the culture of the news reporting industry). Once they do this, they cut and paste the press release, with minimal contributions of their own, into a news article which they release.

Like the college radio station's news department that I worked at in college, most professional news departments get most of their stories predominantly from news wire services and press releases, and engage in more labor intensive direct reporting activity in only a small percentage of their stories.

Moreover, even then, a significant proportion of direct news reporting involves attending press conferences held by the same kinds of sources that issue press releases, listening to the presentations given and the answers to the questions asked by other reporters, and asking one or two questions of their own, and then writing up what was said at the press conference, again, influenced by a common set of news reporter cultural norms about what statements made at a press conference are most newsworthy.

Much of the rest of the journalist additions to what happens in a press conference comes from the same publicly available background information sources like almanacs, atlases, Wikipedia, and quick Google and social media searches.

An overlapping reason for the similarity of the reports of different news organizations is that often, there are not many sources that are easily available to foreign affairs and military activity new reporters. Often, the public affairs officer or public relations officer or press secretary at one of a very small number of government agencies will be the only easily available source of information about what is going on in military conflict.

The U.S. government doesn't directly regulate what news outlets can say in their stories about the military, but the U.S. military does maintain message discipline, allowing only a small number of people to talk to the press. And the people in the military who are allowed to talk to the press are very attuned to telling their organization's side of the story in a manner that both comes across as credible, and supports their organization's military goals. When government agencies are the only sources available to news organizations that have newsworthy, real time access to information about rapidly unfolding events that the press wants to know about, they have a great capacity to omit information that they don't want released for reasons that are not always honorable ones, and to spin the information that they do disclose in a manner that is consistent with their own agenda.

Putting a reporter on a boat in the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf, or on the ground in Yemen or Gaza, is extremely expensive, very dangerous, hard to maintain reliable communications with, and requires specialist journalists with foreign language and other skills. But, this still does not guarantee that the reporter will be in the right place at the right time to see the newsworthy things that are happening at any given time, because the places where newsworthy things can happen are big, and the reporter can only be in one small corner of those places at once.

Networks of informants can make an on the scene reporting doing independent direct reporting more efficient and more likely to see newsworthy events, but these networks are also difficult and expensive to develop and maintain, although social media can reduced this cost somewhat when used skillfully.

Also, often, the most newsworthy information is only available from places like the bridges of warships or the semi-private meetings of politicians, where members of the general public can't go without the advanced permission of the people who are being reported upon. And, only a limited number of journalists can be in these places personally, with the other journalists forced to rely on the reporting of the journalists who are there.

The bottom line is that a lot of the similarity in news reports from multiple new media outlets comes not from any grand conspiracy or organized effort to control what is said on the editorial side. Instead, it comes from efforts to gather news in a cost effective way and the logistical realities that pose barriers to truly independent direct reporting.

The reports of a news organization like al-Jazeera differ from those of Western mainstream media sources, mostly because their costs of access to different kinds of sources and different press conferences from official sources is not the same as those of Western sources. Therefore, each respective news organization reports the information it has the easiest time obtaining. The differences aren't primarily due to the reporters or their editors having different "agendas" although editors in each case do have to consider the worldviews and priorities of their primary paying audiences.

All of this said, your perception that:

all of them publish a good news in very positive way and all of them decide to not publish anything about a bad (in view of the west)

is simply not true and is a result of your skewed perception of news reporting.

Western journalist love to publish scathing indictments of and bad news about the West and of authorities, and will do so any chance they get, and prefer "bad news" to "good news". This is because when they can get it, it is much more interesting to their readership and increases their readership. If they are too pro-government, their articles start to sound like propaganda and journalists and their editors make a deliberate effort to avoid that kind of reporting to the extent that they can do so. Stories that challenge the powers that be increase a news outlet's credibility. Those are the stories that earn Pulitzer Prizes.

This said, the world view and understandings about how the world works of Western reporters and their audiences and of audiences, for example, in the Middle East, are different, as are the facts that are most important to different audiences.

Western audiences, for example, have a predisposition to give Israeli sources and pro-Israeli perspectives the benefit of the doubt, while Arab audiences tend to assume ill-intent and malice on the part of Israelis in the absence of strong, direct evidence to the contrary. This is in part because Western audiences often have many people who have had positive interactions with Israel and Israelis personally or know someone who has, while Arab audiences often have many people who have had negative interactions with Israel and Israelis personally or know someone who has.

Arab audiences, similarly, are much more receptive to conspiracy theories and to assumptions about how organizations and societies work that attribute lots of activity to corruption and ulterior motives, while Western audiences are much more prone to look to error and incompetence and coincidence as explanations for why things happen before considering corruption, or malice, or conspiracies.

To some extent, this is also a product of the respective life experiences of members of the different audiences. Western governments aren't always competent and make mistakes, but tend to not be deeply corrupt or controlled by malicious conspirators. Government in the Middle East, in contrast, tend to be extremely corrupt, ridden with nepotism, illuminated by undisclosed kinship and clan and sect ties, and prone to thinly veiled malicious conduct.

Arab audiences, as a result, make inaccurate projections about what is likely going on in the actions and statements of Western governments, while Western audiences probably underestimate the extent to which statements by Middle Eastern political actors are driven by corruption and are insincere.

News organizations, in turn, try to write and spin their stories in ways that make sense in the context of the worldviews of their typical audience members, because that is the best way for them to maximize their audiences.

  • 1
    "similarity in news reports ... comes not from any grand conspiracy or organized effort to control what is said on the editorial side ... [but from] logistical realities that pose barriers to truly independent direct reporting" - isn't the "grand conspiracy" the presentation of this massive echo chamber reporting the opinions of one or two trusted propagandists the authorities choose to admit to otherwise internal or secret contexts (like the bridges of warships or semi-private meetings of politicians), as being an independent and direct channel to the facts?
    – Steve
    Commented Jan 14 at 11:40
  • 3
    The "Government" might on itself not control the media, but political parties certainly do, as most media organizations are representing or are strongly aligned with certain political factions or parties.
    – vsz
    Commented Jan 15 at 5:12
  • 1
    @Vsz Political parties in the U.S. can't even control who runs for office on their own ticket. They wish they controlled the media. They do not remotely do so.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 15 at 17:49
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    @vsz Because often one side (e.g. Russia in Ukraine, and the Houthis near the Red Sea) is clearly in the wrong.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 15 at 23:07
  • 1
    @vsz In the same vein, the vast majority of criminal cases, there aren't many "pro-criminal defendant" stories because those have some factual wings in only a small minority of cases. Most crimes are inexcusable.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 15 at 23:20

Correlation is not causation.

The media influences public opinion. Public opinion puts pressure on politicians. The media also influences the individuals that consume it, which includes decision makers in business and politicians. And politics also influences the media, through selective funding and selective use of the justice department, or the looming threat thereof. And decision makers in business influence both media, through ownership, and politicians through selective campaign funding .

The media landscape has become more homogeneous, with very few big players owning multiple large outlets, who certainly do use their ownership to influence media content.

As such I absolutely agree with your observation, and disagree with your conclusion. There isn't any one cog in the machine being the cause and the other being the effect. They all influence each other, and are sometimes referred to as "the establishment".


No, there is no evidence of government censorship in the West. However, there are a number of factors that lead to a similar outcome and can easily create the impressions:

  1. The use of news agencies such as Reuters or AP.
  2. The increasingly verbatim use of those news agencies' reports as newspapers struggle to be profitable and cut down on their own staff.
  3. Consolidation in the business side, with many of the newspapers, TV channels, etc. now in the hands of relatively few investors and corporations. Even if these don't directly influence day-to-day reporting, they will put in charge leaders who share their ideals.
  4. Social media and other echo domes / bubbles. With so much of our media consumption now algorithm driven, we all get to see fairly uniform news, even if other news exist.
  5. Media culture. Journalism, like any other job, is not evenly distributed across the population. Certain people tend more towards journalism than others, same as farming, tech or banking. This is reinforced by universities etc. where these same people congregate to study the profession and further reinforce a common set of ideas and ideals.
  6. Government influence. Finally, yes the government does try to influence what the media reports, through its own press releases and press rooms, its selection of journalists to give interviews to or "leak" information to, etc. - this is not censorship, but it does result in some stories being more prominent than others.
  7. The assumption by non-western governments, NGOs, etc. that because censorship is normal in their countries, it must be like that in the West, which gets expressed and again contributes to the impression that there is censorship in the West.
  8. I probably forgot at least one further point, so here's a blank to fill in: _____

when I google "US Seized Iran Oil Tanker Suez Rajan" nothing appeared as result.

You may not be searching effectively,

The first two sources I tried both mentioned the previous history and the US seizure of Iranian assets


The seizure of the oil tanker by Iran, reported by local state media as retaliation for the hijacking last year of the same vessel by the US

The Guardian

The tanker, previously called the Suez Rajan, was renamed after a long-running court case led to 980,000 tonnes of Iranian oil being unloaded from the ship in Texas last September.

Even what I regard as one of the worst UK newspapers mention the history (though further down the article)

Daily Mail

St. Nikolas was once known as the Suez Rajan and had been involved in a yearlong dispute that ultimately saw the US Justice Department seize 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil on it.

  • 2
    This is not an answer. It is clear that the media cannot hide the truth. But the point is that a news is effective when it is published on the same day or at the same time of the event, not a year later. For example, we all know that the United States atomic bombed Japan. Will this news be effective if it is broadcast now? Absolutely not.
    – C.F.G
    Commented Jan 15 at 6:35

The implied assumption in the question seems to be that billionaires buy newspapers and trade media outlets - often loss-making or very marginally profitable, despite changing hands for hundreds of millions of dollars - in order to do a public service and bring truth to the world.

The reality is that these are propaganda organs, which the rich buy to push their propaganda agenda.

A brief period of history during the post-war era when the press had a reputation for truth and independence, was really a historical exception, when the ideological threat of communism meant that capitalist liberals had to be on their best behaviour, and when the sheer strength of workers (including those who operated the presses and newsrooms day-to-day) meant that pure lies could not easily be peddled without challenge. All that's gone now.

If "[m]any believe that mainstream Western newspapers such as WSJ, NYT, The Guardian, AP, etc. publish all the world's news without censorship", then that is a mistaken belief.

The fact that the media seem to push a certain agenda with one voice (or stay relatively silent in unison), is not a function of explicit conspiracy, but of the media being largely owned or funded by similar individuals or corporations, all with similar class interests which they all want to push via propaganda.

  • +1. but I think in EU it is the EU policy. Isn't?
    – C.F.G
    Commented Jan 12 at 20:43

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