The Hunt for Sirius Black—Supposed Death Eater and Escape Artist
As in the matter of Gilderoy Lockhart, the Daily Prophet seems unable to properly investigate the story of Sirius Black. Why was there no thorough and substantial investigation of how Sirius was able to escape Azkaban? His escape would have been a good opportunity to review the facts surrounding the murder of thirteen Muggles and determine whether there was any real proof that Sirius Black had committed the murders of which he had been found guilty. Of course, no investigation happens and the Daily Prophet relies instead in providing a “social benefit” to the Wizarding world by extolling the dangers of one Sirius Black, killer of Muggles, follower of Voldemort, and master escape artist. We also observe in this book that the Ministry of Magic is more than happy to use the Daily Prophet as a propaganda tool and purveyor of disinformation about Sirius Black— quite often as a cover-up for its own inadequacies, mistakes, and plain stupidity (PA 37).
Consider how small details like Sirius Black’s presence at the scene of the crime, the disappearance of Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius’ supposed role as the Potter’s secret keeper led the Ministry and the rest of the wizarding world to believe that Sirius had to be guilty of murder. However, the lie was given extra weight because the Daily Prophet, an established source, supported it. The media has a lot more power than you might think, and it’s important to pay attention to how they interpret the details!
Disinformation (n): intentionally incorrect information, often provided to an enemy for the purpose of influencing the enemy’s reactions. For examples of real-world espionage that relied on disinformation, check out the Wikipedia article!
Propoganda (n): False information, usually disseminated by the government
Established Source (n): Any source that has been used regularly and found to be reliable.