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Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter…
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Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media (edició 2009)

de Nick Davies

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Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession. When award-winning journalist Nick Davies decided to break Fleet Street's unwritten rule by investigating his own colleagues, he found that the business of reporting the truth had been slowly subverted by the mass production of ignorance. Working with a network of off-the-record sources, Davies uncovered the story of the prestigious Sunday newspaper which allowed the CIA and MI6 to plant fiction in its columns; the newsroom which routinely rejects stories about black people; the respected paper that hired a professional fraudster to set up a front company to entrap senior political figures; the newspapers which support law and order while paying cash bribes to bent detectives. Davies names names and exposes the national stories which turn out to be pseudo events manufactured by the PR industry, and the global news stories which prove to be fiction generated by a new machinery of international propaganda. He shows the effect of this on a world where consumers believe a mass of stories which, in truth, are as false as the idea that the Earth is flat - from the millennium bug to the WMD in Iraq - tainting government policy, perverting popular belief. With the help of researchers from Cardiff University, who ran a ground-breaking analysis of our daily news, Davies found most reporters, most of the time, are not allowed to dig up stories or check their facts - a profession corrupted at the core.… (més)
Membre:bigdaddymerk
Títol:Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
Autors:Nick Davies
Informació:Random House UK (2009), Paperback, 320 pages
Col·leccions:Library Borrows
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Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media de Nick Davies

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People have faces, organisations don't have faces - they have masks. A face reflects what is inside the person but a mask is a construct. What is behind the mask can be entirely different to what is portrayed at the front.
The media is not the face of the world. It's not the face of anything. It is a bunch of masks that are produced to sell. You wouldn't trust an entertaining anecdote on the back of a pack of chips to tell you the truth about reality so why would you trust the media? You trust the media because it has a beautiful mask of truthfullness and trustworthiness. But it is still a mask.

Before reading this book i had several beliefs about the media:
1. The media industry is vast so there must be some value to it, otherwise it would collapse. If they say they provide a service of investigating the truth then there is a high chance that that is where their value lies.
2. There are checks and balances around the media. If they tell a lie then somebody will point it out and the lie will be corrected and i will know about it.
3. The media is neutral and covers most aspects of life uniformly. If there is a gap then eventually another media outlet will fill it.
4. The commercial PR is somehow separated from the main content of the media or made clear that it is PR.
5. Personal blogs and forums are trustworthy because they are written by individuals who are not subject to the pressures of a media company.

After reading the book i now believe that:
1. The media often don't know the truth, don't like the truth, don't care about the truth, don't have time and resources to get to the truth. What is packaged as news and truth often has nothing to do with the truth. It's fiction. Fiction might be good when you know it's fiction.
2. There are checks and balances but they are not enough. The scale of the lies and propaganda overwhelms the available institutions that protect the reader. Sometimes there are no institutions at all, or just fake institutions created by the media itself.
3. The media doesn't cover everything and is not neutral. It covers what it will be paid for. It will blatantly lie to you to push an agenda or to grab your attention. Many important aspects of life are not covered at all because they are hard to exploit for money.
4. There is a lot of manipulation embedded in the media products which is not made clear at all. Some of it is very hard to notice but it nevertheless makes an impact on your opinions.
5. Uncovering truth is hard work. The individuals often don't have the resources, the skills, the will to do it. Some bloggers share their own experience which can be valuable but not necessarily true on a larger scale. Others just regurgitate the same lies but filtered only to those they personally enjoy.

My heart is bleeding now. Digesting the detail after excrutiating detail of how this person lied and this group people deceived and this agency betrayed and these guys stole and this newspaper threw their ideals and humanity out the window and on and on until my head hurts - well, it's painful and sad. I don't remember being as sad reading any other book. With every story i felt like a piece of my idealism fell off and withered. It's revolting to drink such concentrated essence of the dark side of humanity. I desperately need to watch kitties playing with cotton balls now.

Besides the numerous examples of the workings of the media the book also provided glimpses into workspace environments in agencies, newspapers and even governments. It was enlightening to see how human interactions in toxic environments play a role in the production of lies. Some journalists hate their jobs and their bosses, they hate to tell lies, they didn't sign up for it, they came into the industry to deal with truth and facts - but now they are stuck because they enjoy the pay and can't leave.

The media is in constant conflict between telling the truth and earning a profit. I wish i could proclaim that from now on and until they figure their shit out i will not trust anybody, i will not derive any of my opinions based on speculative fiction dressed as news, i will discover the world for myself and check everything important. But i realise that it's just a dream. Just like the media i don't have the resources to find the truth and i most certainly have to rely on other people. The question is how do i do that without getting bamboozled. I guess reading this book and learning about the production of news is a good start. ( )
  rubyman | Feb 21, 2024 |
Sadly the Internet did not save journalism, it just struck the killing blow to the diseased monster it has become. This book will disabuse you of the mistaken memory that journalism was good before twitter took over. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 30, 2021 |
*SPOILERS!* (in Dutch, as I read the Dutch version) Ik was al een tijdje kritisch van wat er in de kranten en het journaal verteld werd, hoe selectief men te werk ging, maar na het lezen van "Gebakken Lucht" ben ik alleen maar kritischer geworden en weet ik niet meer wat nog waar is en wat niet.

Nick Davies baseert zich, logisch, op wat er zich afspeelt in de Britse pers, maar je kunt het patroon ook toepassen voor de Belgische pers, me dunkt. Wat krijg je te lezen: hoe bepaalde nieuwsjes uitvergroot worden zodat er bijna massahysterie uitbreekt (bijv. millenniumbug), terwijl de gevolgen ofwel nul zijn ofwel zo miniem dat al dat gehyp puur voor de verkoop vd krant was. Verder behandelt Nick het probleem van kostenbesparing, hoe journalisten minder kunnen beroep doen op bronnen, op collega's bij lokalere kranten/tv-stations. Hoe kranteneigenaren vnl. aan winst denken en hoe er nog meer te krijgen. Hoe men de concurrentie te snel wil af zijn met primeurs, gegrond of niet.

Verder: productieregels als veilige verhalen, gemakkelijke verhalen (zodat er minder tijd moet ingestoken worden met natrekken e.d.), en hoe PR machtig wordt => copy-paste, werkt sneller natuurlijk, plus makkelijk om publiek te misleiden, manipuleren. Verder speelt PR ook een rol om bijv. militaire missies tot stand te brengen (Irak en WOMD, Libië en Gaddafi, ...)

Verder: hoe journalisten contacten hebben met agenten, privé-detectives, (ex-)criminelen, ... om toch maar verhalen te kunnen schrijven. Contradictie met H4, waarin men beknot wordt in werkingsmiddelen, maar dan zelf wel de wet overtreedt met schenden van privacy van anderen d.m.v. voormelde personen.

The Sunday Times: voorheen een vd kranten met een onderzoeksteam (Insight) dat budget had om eerlijke journalistiek te doen, om echt zaken te onderzoeken en naar waarheid te plaatsen. Toen Rupert Murdoch de krant kocht, werd dat team opgedoekt en werd TST blijkbaar even oppervlakkig als de modale krant. Het moet verkopen en onderzoek kost tijd en geld, wat Rupert niet wilde spenderen, want dan verkocht je minder kranten, natuurlijk. Ook hier speelde PR (bijv. persattaché van Tony Blair en beïnvloedbare journalist vd krant) een rol, en dat was van bij The Observer. Dus, ook hier werden leugens en verdraaiingen geschreven, bijv. ter stimulatie vd inval in Irak (om Saddam af te zetten e.d.), ook al was The Observer blijkbaar niet het soort krant dat de regering aanhing. Soit, 2 maten en gewichten.

Dan The Daily Mail: hoe dit de machtigste krant werd, zich niets onziend. Verhalen weer oprakelen, er een draai aan geven om de massa te beïnvloeden, de politiek, enz. Waren de leugens en propaganda aangevochten, deed men ofwel niks met de klacht ofwel plaatste men een kleine rechtzetting ofwel procedeerde men ofwel betaalde de krant een schadevergoeding. Zelfs het controle-orgaan vd pers deed niks om de krant erecht te wijzen. Zelfs de politiek deed niks om het vuile spel vd krant te stoppen. Hoe dan ook, The Daily Mail is volgens wat ik las een vd meest verachtelijke kranten. en weer stond/staat een manipulatieve hoofdredacteur aan het hoofd vd redactie. Zo erg dat men op den duur de doctrine volgde als journalist, ook al wist je beter.

Laatst pleit Nick voor een soort controle-organisme voor de pers, om enkel de correcte informatie te laten publiceren, niet de leugens, propaganda, ... hij maakt ook melding van alternatieve nieuwssites en m.n. blogs, hoe mensen op de duur zelf naar de waarheid zoeken.

Zoals ik in het begin aangaf: wat moet je nog geloven? Lees je in de ene krant versie A, zie je op het internet versie B, of zaken die niet in A verteld werden. Het nieuws idem: 13u, reactie van bijv. een minister, om 19u is de reactie ingekort. En waarom?

Hoewel "Gebakken Lucht" dus vnl. op Britse leest is geschoeid en sommige feiten uit het verleden niet duidelijk zijn (want puur Britse actualiteit), kan je de kranten en eventuele feiten vervangen door zaken die hier gebeurd zijn. Langs de andere kant: het is geen pure zwart-witte situatie. Er zijn natuurlijk nog journalisten die correct hun werk willen en kunnen doen, maar zijn die in de meerderheid? Het is ongelooflijk hoe er zoveel kranten zijn en men dagelijks toch zoveel tekst erin krijgt, zei ook een treincollega van me enkele jaren geleden. Soit, in ieder geval is "Gebakken Lucht" een ferme aanrader om inzicht te verwerven over hoe de pers tegenwoordig te werk gaat, hoe verkoop en winst telt, NIET de waarheid want die kost tijd en geld en dat heeft invloed op de winst. Zoals het spreekwoord zegt: 't Gemak goa vo d'ere (het gemak gaat vóór de eer, ofte waarom ergens tijd en moeite in steken - en trots zijn op je werk - als je ook gemakkelijke en manipulatieve berichten kunt publiceren?)For shame! ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Well, this is cheerful stuff. Nick Davies, respected journalist, gives the lie to the notion that the biggest threat to journalism is the interference of owners or the threats of advertisers. His thesis is that the drive for profits has driven journalism to the brink of destruction. Staff cuts and spending cuts have resulted in fewer journalists working with fewer resources on more stories. Unfortunately those stories are provided by the booming new sector that is the Public Relations industry, which is not above manufacturing news and events and whipping up fear and disinformation. Meanwhile, the network of reporters who used to cover all sorts of stories from all over the world has shriveled to nothing. Which leaves us with the interesting question of how true the picture of the world presented to us daily in the media actually is.

Davies traces the decline of old-fashioned journalistic practices and values and the rise of the new 'churnalism,' which reproduces and rewrites PR copy without much in the way of checking or exploring or context. Not everything you read on your newspapers or see on your television is churnalism. But a lot of it is. He also touches on the campaign of lies, distortions and misinformation that was part of the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, shocking in its scope and in the utter capitulation of the media in the face of the official line.

Just when you thought you were outraged out, Davies saves the most appalling for last: The Daily Mail and the Press Complaints Commission. One routinely lies and distorts and attacks innocent targets with unmitigated ferocity. The other turns down more than 90% of the complaints it receives without even considering their content.

It ends on a note of pessimism. The only real solution, unstated by Davies, is for a widespread return to the proper funding of proper journalism. The trend at the moment, however, is for less reporters, more stories, higher profits, and so long as that continues truth will suffer and so will we. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
The 'sister' volume to Davies' recent "Hack Attack", this is well-researched polemic maps the slippery slope of decline in British newspapers - from journalism to churnalism. Davies is thorough on the impact of PR, government spin and corporate ownership, and while his glasses may be a little rose tinted for the pre-Murdoch era, there's plenty of stories here to support his point. A little slow at times (it lacks the narrative drive of the more recent book) it's still well worth a read, especially if you want to know why so many respected commentators fell for the Iraq WMD story. ( )
  Parthurbook | Aug 17, 2014 |
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Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession. When award-winning journalist Nick Davies decided to break Fleet Street's unwritten rule by investigating his own colleagues, he found that the business of reporting the truth had been slowly subverted by the mass production of ignorance. Working with a network of off-the-record sources, Davies uncovered the story of the prestigious Sunday newspaper which allowed the CIA and MI6 to plant fiction in its columns; the newsroom which routinely rejects stories about black people; the respected paper that hired a professional fraudster to set up a front company to entrap senior political figures; the newspapers which support law and order while paying cash bribes to bent detectives. Davies names names and exposes the national stories which turn out to be pseudo events manufactured by the PR industry, and the global news stories which prove to be fiction generated by a new machinery of international propaganda. He shows the effect of this on a world where consumers believe a mass of stories which, in truth, are as false as the idea that the Earth is flat - from the millennium bug to the WMD in Iraq - tainting government policy, perverting popular belief. With the help of researchers from Cardiff University, who ran a ground-breaking analysis of our daily news, Davies found most reporters, most of the time, are not allowed to dig up stories or check their facts - a profession corrupted at the core.

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