Nick Davies “Flat Earth News”

ISBN 9780099512684. “Flat Earth News” was published by Chatto & Windus in 2008 (this impression by Vintage in 2009). Nick Davies’ book is a mighty 420 pages long with the index but excluding the Prologue. This work should be read alongside another book published by the Random House Group of companies, and that is “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. Nick makes no mention of the 1988 work but his 2008 book largely brings the work across the Atlantic and updates it from a Journalist’s point of view. He improves it by trying to move away upon focussing on the Media owners and advertisers, and on to the very origin of news stories and how Journalism has changed. Nick does make oblique mention of earlier works when he writes about inaccurate left-wing conspiracy theories. The advertisers and owners care little for the content of their papers as long as they sell. Of course Chomsky and Herman were explicit in saying that this required no conspiracy – only a culture of compliance is required where journalists apply their own rules about what they believe will be an acceptable line on a story. Ten years later Nick comes up with a very similar conclusion. However his work is very much stronger because it is an insider’s view. He is a Journalist on The Guardian and has observed the down-hill trend in journalism. Journalists no longer check the facts or dig up stories. The just retell stories from third parties – be those stories right, wrong or indifferent. This situation came about because the Media has been cut back to the bone of its staff. All that is left are “churnalists” who ‘churn-out’ column inches all lifted – without question – from other sources. This has left the media wide open to manipulation by special-interest groups, Corporate PR and Government spin. Nick’s work is littered with examples and shows how this stripped-down news system works – from the inside. This is the insight we never saw in Chomsky’s work. The book is broken down into four sections. The first deals with general Flat Earth Stories starting with the non-existent Millennium Bug. Then “The News Factory” deals with how the modern media works and is so deeply flawed. “Hidden Persuaders” shows how Public Relations and Propaganda have hijacked the media outlets. Finally “Inside Stories” goes off at a tangent to show how churnalists have turned to criminal activities to dig up their stories (this seems to contradict Nicks earlier message) before Nick spills the dirt on the Sunday Times, The Observer and The Mail. This last section probably should have been reserved for another book as it largely consists of insider anecdotes told in loving detail. Not all of it is pertinent nor interesting and probably could have been left out of a book that peaked in the earlier propaganda section. Indeed it is the propaganda section that is most chilling as it shows how Governments now manufacture news swallowed whole and without question by a modern media machine unable to check the facts. Nick reels off lists of “terror error” stories about Islamic Terrorism that never existed. Entire bogeymen have been manufactured for our consumption and to justify wars that never should have been. Here you learn how it is done. You’ll never read a mainstream paper again. Recommended.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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