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Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media Paperback – February 2, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK (February 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780099512684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512684
  • ASIN: 0099512688
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This brilliant book by Nick Davies, unrelenting in its research, ruthless in its honesty, is a landmark exposé by a courageous insider.”
— John Pilger

About the Author

Nick Davies writes for the Guardian, and has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year, and Feature Writer of the Year. He is the author of Dark Heart, The School Report, and White Lies.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on May 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
In this devastating book Nick Davies clinically buries `the powers that be' of the `free' press.
Newspapers are now part of a pseudo-world of organized ignorance (fabricated stories, pseudo-events, propaganda, distortion, lies by systemic omission or falsehoods supported by `independent experts'). It is a world created and manipulated by agitprop men, lobbyists, PR `specialists' and intelligence agencies who serve commercial, political, ideological and `moral' (e.g. anti-abortion) pressure groups.

The decline of the honorable profession began when media corporations were taken over by `pure money men' turning the primary purpose of newspapers into `money making' by attracting advertisements.
Costs were cut, provoking a global collapse of information-gathering and testing of raw facts. The average own news production fell to 12 % of the output with the rest being recycled stories supplied by other sources (AP, AFP, internet) and chosen by people in the service of powerful interests. Nick Davies calls it `churnalism'. For the author, the honorable profession turned for its greater part into a corrupted and dishonest bunch of `second-hand' newsmen who don't have the time or the ambition to tell the truth.

But, there is a far darker side to this `logic of commerce'.
As E. Bernays states: `the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power ... we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who pull the wires which control the public mind.'
There is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception with the assistance of the mass media.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grue on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're like me, you know that the news is "biased", but you haven't really thought much about specially which forces shape the news and how. After reading this book you will have a much better idea of how news organizations function and what they do and don't do. The main parts of the book are:

1. Economics of newspapers - why pressure to publish is often not conducive to truth
2. News ecosystem - describing the roles of journalists, newspapers, and suppliers such as the Associated Press
3. Outsiders - how companies, lobbyists, and politicians can manipulate the media by exploiting (1) and (2)
4. Details about English newspapers - mostly about how some newspapers in England do illegal stuff

Not being British, I didn't care much about section (4), even though the author is arguably most famous for precipitating the whole Murdoch/Daily Mail scandal. However, the other three sections are excellent and I know of no better book covering similar material. The author clearly has an insider's point of view, not an academic's, but despite some heuristic thinking and proof-by-example, the reader will be forced to admit that there is no reason to believe that the output of the current news system is even roughly true. In short, I was vaguely skeptical before; now I look at most news as being little more than entertaining fiction.

In my opinion the main two faults of the book are that
1) it is parochial and only describes British newspapers in any detail
2) it offers very little constructive guidance on how people _should_ stay informed.

Still, a very thought provoking book. Anyone who reads or watches news (i.e. basically everyone) should read this book or one on the same topics.
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