What Harry Potter can teach you about Media & Authoritarian Regimes

How media changes itself when Populists and Fascists take over the Government

Afroz Chakure
3 min readJun 8, 2024

In “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry, Ron, and Hermione notice significant changes in the way the wizarding newspaper, the ‘Daily Prophet’, reports on events after Lord Voldemort’s return (in 4th book, Goblet of Fire).

During the Ministry’s campaign to ‘discredit and slander’ Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, the Prophet was an ‘instrumental tool’ of the Ministry to convince the public that Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter were ‘fear-mongering about Voldemort’ or ‘simply mad’.

Front page of the Daily Prophet

The Ministry of Magic was responsible for the ‘unfair journalism’ of that summer as Cornelius Fudge strove to ‘discredit Dumbledore’s account of the return of Lord Voldemort’.

After the Death Eaters took over the Ministry, they also took over the Daily Prophet, and they subsequently ‘stopped reporting deaths that Death Eaters were responsible for’, avoided mentioning Voldemort’s return, hided facts and simply reported people as going missing without doing any investigation.

Any person in Opposition to them started getting arrested and send to Azkaban, the Wizard jail under false charges.

They also printed biased, bogus, bigoted news such as articles on ‘Muggle-borns’ stealing magic from ‘true wizards’ further creating a divide between the ‘Muggles’ and so-called ‘Pure Bloods’ Wizards.

In this way they manipulated public perception of the events happening in the wizarding world and hid facts concerning Voldemort & his evil plans.

The sequence of events is key here.

Don’t Trust the National Media

Media can be easily controlled by controlling the way they earn their revenue in the modern world.

Advertisements from Government programs form the bulk of revenue for most media houses. Since majority of news channels are offered ‘free of cost’ as part of TV plans, they don’t have any other revenue streams.

If those in power don’t like what is being reported, they can simply stop advertising on the specific news-media site or platform and hence they deny them of major portion of Ad-revenue.

All ‘Fascist’ and ‘Populist’ regimes in the past & in current world have first targeted the daily news media houses to spread their messages since they know that a fair media is a hindrance to their existence and their agenda.

Who are Death Eaters?
A radical group of wizards and witches, led by the Lord Voldemort, who seek to purify the wizarding community by eliminating wizards and witches born to non-magical (muggle) parents.

It is quite ironical because Voldemort himself is not a pure-blood, same with Severus Snape who once was a Death Eater himself. Both had muggle fathers.

Comparisons with Real life

Nazi Germany actually had an entire ministry called the “Ministry of Propaganda” or “The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”.

It controlled the contents of the press, literature, visual arts, film, theater, music and radio.

It dealt with hiding & manipulating facts from the common people of Germany and selected press representatives often received very detailed instructions as to which reports were to be published and in what form.

The role of the new ministry was to centralize Nazi control of all aspects of German cultural, mass media and intellectual life for the country.

In the modern world we might not have a “Ministry of Propaganda” but we do have “Minister of Information and Broadcasting” that performs the same role.

Nazi Germany’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in 1942

You have to give it to J.K. Rowling for the amazing genius that she is and for creating a magical world with all similarities to real-world problems.