King's College London
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The Cartoon in Wartime Propaganda

Modern propaganda

Mock Chicago Daily TribuneMock Chicago Daily TribunePropaganda has traditionally been divided into three main categories: white, grey and black.

White comes from an acknowledged source and often is aimed at sympathetic audiences, grey is anonymous, while black propaganda pretends to be from a source it is not and is usually aimed at an enemy audience.

All three kinds of propaganda were used in wartime. Real examples in the British campaign in World War Two included RAF leaflet drops and BBC broadcasts (white) and dissemination of forged German military orders and official publications (black).

Familiar rhetorical techniques are used to convey a message; most obviously stereotypes and slander based on class or race.

The influential US Institute for Propaganda Analysis identified seven key methods of propaganda in a seminal 1938 analysis, including 'glittering generalities' in which positive words are introduced in conversation or in print that sound good and are designed to have emotional appeal but which are intentionally vague - words such as 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

In practice, propaganda was viewed as one essential element in an overall campaign designed to undermine the enemy that might include intelligence gathering, supporting sabotage by resistance groups or encouraging passive resistance by workers in occupied countries, for example through go-slows and deliberate mistranslation of orders.

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