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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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“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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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.
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. There is `a nervous preoccupation with the perils of democracy' (S. Ewen), `a collective panic among the power elite' for the instauration of `real' democracy.
They try to create a consensus for capitalism (their power base) and to link free enterprise with freedom, which is an integral part of democracy.
J. Pulitzer said: `A cynical, mercenary, demagogic, corrupt press will produce in time a people as base as itself.'
However, Nick Davies shows us overwhelmingly that the newspaper industry risks to die ('its illness is terminal') before `people' will be converted into manipulated `Pavlov dogs'.
This book is a must read for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
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It isn't a conspiracy, it's just an overwhelming commercial logic...Read more