Trend Watch

"Essentially 'Agitprop' Presented as News"

The New York Times reports on Donald Trump's Facebook Live show

Agitprop (“propaganda; especially: political propaganda promulgated chiefly in literature, drama, music, or art"), rose sharply in lookups on the morning of October 26, 2016, after The New York Times used it while reporting on Donald Trump’s nascent media programming.

Essentially agitprop presented as news, the program is fueling speculation that Mr. Trump wants to start a network, purveying news and opinion tailored to the candidate’s worldview.
—Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times, 26 Oct. 2016

Agitprop has been in use in English since 1925, although the meaning has broadened somewhat since the word was first used. It was borrowed from the Russian Agitprop, which was itself a shortening of Agitatsionnopropagandistskiĭ otdel, which may be translated as “Agitation-Propaganda Section (of the Central Committee, or a local committee, of the Communist Party)”.

Both the responsible members and the staff of these courses will be under the supervision of the “Agitprop,” or Agitation-Propaganda Committee of the Comintern, and their activities are expected to cover a wide field.
The Times (London, UK), 30 Apr. 1925

In its initial few decades of use agitprop was applied primarily to this Soviet committee; in the middle of the 20th century it began to be used to refer to political propaganda of indeterminate origin.

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