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Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media [Hardcover]

Nick Davies
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2008

'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 impact 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. He presents a new model for understanding news. 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.

Read All About It. The news will never look the same again.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; 1st Edition 3rd Printing edition (7 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701181451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701181451
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'...his main point - that such a reading is less and less possible in our press - is important, vital, urgent. -- Financial Times

'...if read by enough journalists, Flat Earth News might act as a wake-up call' -- Irish Times

'Meticulous, fair-minded and utterly gripping...' -- Daily Telegraph

'This is an important book.' -- Herald

`meticulously researched and fascinating, if gloomy' -- Observer

`mostly indispensable' -- The Times

`this timely rallying call is essential reading - for those who write newspapers as well as those who read them' -- Metro

'Flat Earth News surprises... and shocks' -- The Oldie

'his wide-ranging investigation of the shortcomings of the global and British media ... a careful, brilliant and instinctive reporter'
-- Independent Scotsman

'this timely rallying call is essential reading - for those who write newspapers as well as those who read them'
-- Metro


`an idealistic search for truth that needs defending'
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful study of the media 2 April 2008
Author and journalist Nick Davies has written one of the best exposés of the media. The book started when he saw that the government's lies about Iraqi WMD became widely accepted as true because too many in his profession spread them uncritically. As he writes, journalism without checking is like a body without an immune system.

Commercial forces are the main obstacle to truth-telling journalism. The owners cut costs by cutting staff and local news suppliers, by running cheap stories, choosing safe facts and ideas, avoiding upsetting the powerful, giving both sides of the story (unless it's the official story), giving the readers what they want to believe, and going with moral panics.

He cites a Cardiff University study of four quality papers which found that 60% of their home news stories were wholly from wire agencies, mainly the Press Association, or PR material, 20% partially so, 8% from unknown sources, and just 12% generated by reporters. The Press Association reports only what is said, it has no time to check whether it is true. There are now more PR people, 47,800, than journalists, 45,000.

News websites run by media firms recycle 50% of their stories from the two international wire agencies, Associated Press and Reuters; those run by internet firms recycle 85% of their stories from those two. On a typical day, Google News offered `14,000' stories - actually retelling just 24 events.

The government has 1,500 press officers, issues 20,000 press releases a year, and also spends millions more of our money on PR firms. The Foreign Office spends 600 million a year on `public diplomacy'. The CIA spent $265 million on `information operations' in 1978 alone, more than the world's three biggest news agencies together.
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135 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave Man 20 May 2008
By Mr. N. T. Baxter VINE VOICE
Nick Davies must be a brave man... He has launched a devastating attack on not only the state of modern journalism, but also on the basic integrity of many of those involved in the profession. And this from a major paper journalist who must now have made a lot of enemies within his industry.

I'm sure you have noticed how very similar versions of the same stories are posted online by apparently independent and well funded news organisations - especially in America for news outside the US. This book explains why, and how the facts of these clone stories are often unchecked by the trusted organisations putting them into the public domain.

The book also covers the pernicious effects and influence of PR and also, perhaps most depressingly, the outright lying of major newspapers who are left barely challenged by the Press Complaints Commission and whom average people cannot afford to defend themselves against.

All of it seems to root back to money. Selling more papers through sensationalism, pandering to racism and lying; cost cutting exercises that have reduced the number of journalists available to cover an ever increasing number of stories, leaving them without the time to check their sources properly.

Very depressing, but a fantastic inoculation against the effects of this 'disease'. The book will help you take a more critical view of what you read, see and hear and understand the motivations that lie behind much of the news we are fed. The final summary provides some ideas about where good journalism can still be found - basically it exists where advertising does not - or where reporting is guided (or protected) by highly ethical 'old school' editorial policies.
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185 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why are Newspapers so Cheap? 12 April 2008
I brought this book after reading a few snippets in Private Eye. All I can say is that Nick Davis has written a fascinating insight into the journalism business in the UK. By writing a truly insightful book with an abundance of hard facts, Davis answers the question indirectly as to why newspapers are so cheap in the UK. The Sun can be purchased for 20p these days; I wonder why? Davis not only addresses why the UK media is so distorted; but how.

As he mentions in the chapter `The Private Life of Public Relation', PR firms inject falsehood into the British media so surreptitiously which the weekly columnists are completely oblivious to. For instance, he cites the case of the Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips who wrote "a series of outspoken columns denouncing the whole concept of man-made climate change". Davis goes on to mention one of her articles in the Mail in February 2002 which said `The latest evidence is provided in a report published today by the European Science and Environmental Forum, in which a group of the most eminent scientists from Britain and America shed the theory'. Fair play to Phillips for doing her research, but was it researched enough? Davis gives us the pleasure of looking deeper into the roots of the story and writes "the forum whose work she {Phillips} was quoting was, in truth, yet another pseudo-group, created with the help of two PR agencies (APCO Worldwide and Burson-Marsteller) with the specific intent of campaigning against restrictions on corporate activity". He also mentions how the report "Phillips referred in such glowing terms was recycled work which had been funded by Exxon".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars always worth a read...
awesome and ground breaking journalism; he is always worth a read...
Published 4 days ago by Mark Pummell
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A real eye opener
Published 15 days ago by Ivy
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating
He tells it how it is. It makes me blush that our journalism is so corrupted. People need to know.
Published 2 months ago by Mark Hughes
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Great, Not Bad Either
I’ve been putting off writing this review for a little while now. It’s a difficult one for me. I only read Flat Earth News because so many people had recommended it, and most of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr. Simon Howard
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good insights, but ocassionally dry/repetitive
This book has some cracking insights into how the media has been driven to poor level reporting, copying press releases as news, buying into common myths and lack of fact... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Washington Irving
4.0 out of 5 stars Flat Earth News
Lovely book here. And very interesting to read. It gives you the true picture behind journalism. Very good book and good service
Published 3 months ago by Roberta
5.0 out of 5 stars Great research
Lots of great information in a deep, relevant investigation of what it means to be a journalist. Obligatory reading for understanding the XXI century electronic media.
Published 3 months ago by Edu Portas
5.0 out of 5 stars Every journalist, aspiring or veteran, should read this. So should...
Incredible read - echos views and thoughts I have had, and said things I've known instinctively for years but backed up with diligent research, facts and the benefit of the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by GDEK
5.0 out of 5 stars A new word Churnalism.
This book has confirmed what I had always thought about the media. That corporatization of the news media has led to journalism to losing it's ability to investigate and expose the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Malcolm Pagett
5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism's Embarrassing Secrets
There are many theories on why modern journalism is so bad, everything from CIA infiltration to just plain laziness has been blamed. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Charles
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