Publicity instead of Propaganda?

Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2003 11:22 pm
Propaganda was originally a positive word or commendatory term, and it has become a sarcasm since Hitler's day (I am not sure this saying is exact; if you think not, correct it please). Someone suggests using publicity instead of propaganda when it is expressed as a systematic propagation, such as "educational publicity" instead of "educational propaganda' , "National Publicity Department" instead of "National Propaganda Department". The reason they did so is that publicity can be counted as a good word that is beyond derogatory sense. But I checked out that
publicity means: Public interest, notice, or notoriety achieved by the spreading of such information.
So publicity seems like just a neuter word; or depends on its context; can be used as a good word or bad one.
Any idea appreciated.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2003 11:37 pm
As a German, I avoid using the word ''Propaganda'' (because of the "Propaganda Ministery" [Goebbels] et. al. during the so-called Third Reich).

I remember that my grandmother, grandaunts used 'propaganda' in the sense of 'promotion'.

I think, however, propaganda can actually, very broadly, and neutrally, defined as any attempt to persuade.

(Just remembering the German expression the expression ''Mund-zu-Mund-Propaganda'' ['mouth-to-mouth advertising'], which means that freelancers (translators etc.), lawyers, doctors etc. often get new customers/patients because they have been recommended by former customers/patiens to friends, relatives etc. . Quite positive.)

It's no real help for your question, but 'publicity' isn't THAT neutral in German either.

I believe, it's just us, who interpretate a meaning in any word. And thus, any word can have a different 'tone', depending e.g. on the history of where you live (e.g. 'euthansia is negative in Germany as well).
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 07:10 pm
Oristar, I checked "propaganda" and "publicity" in my dictionary and thesaurus. Propaganda definitely has a negative connotation. Publicity is not a negative word, but it's not one that is normally associated with the dissemination of government information. A national publicity department sounds strange to me. Publicity is a word used larged for commercial reasons.

If you're looking for a replacement word for propaganda, what about information or communication?
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 09:15 pm
A thank to Walter Hinteler and Roberta.

The following paragraph seems supporting that the propaganda is neutral:

"The modern world is overrun with all kinds of competing propaganda and counterpropaganda and a vast variety of other
symbolic activities, such as education, publishing, newscasting, and patriotic and religious observances. The problem of
distinguishing between the effects of one's own propaganda and the effects of these other activities is often extremely difficult."

But the situation of US is different to Germany's. In US, just as what Roberta has indicated:"Propaganda definitely has a negative connotation." ; while in Germany, as Walter has reminded us, it is comfortable to mention ''Mund-zu-Mund-Propaganda''.

The conclusion is to do in Rome as Rome does.
As to Roberta's recommendation.If using information instead of propaganda, then we will have "National Information Department". It sounds like this "information" most likely equals to the information in "Information Industry" and thus causes some misunderstanding. And then using communication instead of propaganda? See the examples of how communication has been used: communication systems; communication technology; communications equipment; communications interface. So people would like to think "National Communication Department" as a department about telecom.
But using publicity sounds ... eh, strange. Alright, I have to drop it. Let "National Propaganda Department" go its own way. Every country is different, after all.
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 09:56 pm
I posted this on another thread when I was referring to the propaganda campaigns in the eighties about toxic shock syndrome. Butrflynet thought I was implying that the campaigns were spreading lies. I wasn't.

"The word propaganda has taken on a negative connotation since its inclusion into the English language (one reason being it comes from the name of an organization established by Pope Gregory XV, Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide [Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith]) but in its strictest definition it merely means that which is propagated.

"Think of it as advertising."

As in advertising, what is being propagated isn't necessarily true or false, it is simply being propagated. Is it true that tampax are the best tampons? Sharper Image claims that the Ionic Breeze air cleaner has been "proven effective," and that "tests at leading university research centers show that the Ionic Breeze is effective at trapping airborne allergens, contaminants and irritants."

Consumer Reports has determined through its own testing that it is not effective at what Sharper Image claims it to be.
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