Copyright

Propagandist: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson we will begin by defining the term 'propaganda,' and then move on to learn what a 'propagandist' is. We will look through history to identify famous propagandists.

Introduction: What Is Propaganda?
rosie

Before we examine the term 'propagandist,' let's begin by defining the term propaganda. What is propaganda? Propaganda is simply the use of media to influence attitudes or views. A lot of people think of posters when they hear the word 'propaganda.' The 'Rosie the Riveter' poster of World War II may come to mind. Certainly World War I and World War II posters were a highly visible form of propaganda, but propaganda is so much more than just posters with catchy slogans.

A song can be used as propaganda. So can a photograph, written text, a film and numerous other forms of art. In fact, the possibilities of propaganda media are nearly endless. The important thing to remember is that propaganda is communication used to influence ideas (usually ideas of a political nature). Art for the sake of art is not propaganda, but art used to change a person's political view is propaganda.

We have to understand, propaganda is not always necessarily evil or deceitful. Although it has had a negative connotation because of its use by the Nazis in WWII, propaganda is simply using media to influence ideas.

Let's look at a few famous pieces of propaganda:

Der Fuhrer's Face by Spike Jones and His City Slickers - This was a World War II song that promoted American patriotism by making fun of Adolf Hitler.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine - This was a famous pamphlet that helped popularize the idea of American independence from Great Britain.

The Eternal Jew - This was a Nazi propaganda film designed to reinforce anti-Semitism.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David - This is an 1805 painting depicting Napoleon Bonaparte as an illustrious leader.

So… propaganda can take a variety of forms, but it is always designed to influence public attitudes toward important issues (usually related to politics.)

What Is a Propagandist?

Goebbels

This is easy. A propagandist is someone who creates and/or disseminates propaganda! A propagandist is someone who actively creates propaganda material, or is involved in spreading it. A propagandist might be a writer, film producer, painter, photographer, musician, etc., but they are consciously involved in disseminating their material for the purpose of influencing attitudes.

Famous Propagandists

Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels is probably the most famous propagandist of all time. He was the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for the Nazi regime. He supervised all forms of pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda used by the Third Reich.

Hanoi Hannah. Hanoi Hannah was a female North Vietnamese radio personality who directed propaganda speeches to American soldiers. She typically tried to make American soldiers feel homesick and disillusioned with their circumstances.

Thomas Paine. Paine was a writer and philosopher who promoted the cause of American independence through his treatises.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support