It should come as no surprise that the media is in crisis. Lies, distortion and omission are all par for the course.
Nick Davies’ magnificent Flat Earth News, which is now available in paperback, goes a long way toward explaining why.
Davies, a leading reporter on the Guardian, aims his investigative talents at his own profession, and reveals an industry torn apart by rampant profiteering.
Of course, there is nothing new about profiteering, but Davies traces the step change back to Rupert Murdoch’s launch of his Wapping plant in 1986 and the subsequent smashing of the powerful print unions.
The impact on journalists has been profound.
Davies estimates that, “the average time allowed for national newspaper journalists to find and check their stories has been cut to a third of its former level”.
The upshot is that reporters have become more and more reliant on the burgeoning industry of press releases that more often than not end up being published with little if any checking.
Journalists have become “churnalists”, with the damage affecting content from the mundane right up to the big political stories.
Davies packs his analysis with interviews and stories from the frontline of journalism to produce a must-read for anyone interested in how the media works.
Flat Earth News, Nick Davies £8.99
The journalists’ NUJ union is campaigning to defend editorial standards. Nick Davies will be speaking at the union’s Jobs Summit on Saturday 24 January, from 11am, School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N