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 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.
©2008 Nick Davies; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
A thorough, detailed and devastating dissection of the shallowness that describes our news organizations. British newspapers, which the author is most familiar with, are only the tip of the iceberg for this machine that creates the information equivalent of junk food, although Soylent Green may be a better metaphor.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the inner workings of the press, and sound explanations for the increasing amount of "churnalism" over originally researched and fact-tested stories. The book divulges very interesting mechanisms behind the sway of PR-people over the media, the economy of fast and readable headlines, and unscrupulous wartime coverage in favor of Irak 1 and 2 despite the press having solid sources saying that Hussein had no WMDs.
Unfortunately, that is only half the book. The other half concerns frontal attacks on particular British Fleet Street Newspapers. The author has his own bones to pick combined with solid resarch based on personal experience and many professional contacts. This sometimes feels a bit personal, but the big problem is that those parts are largely irrelevant to readers outside the UK, even if meticulously researched and easy to read. In conclusion, this could have been a five-star listen for me if an "international edition" of maybe 9 hours was available,. If you aren't in Britain, you might get bored with Fleet Street name games.
This is an excellent historical perspective and analysis of the decline of print journalism. I've heard glowing recommendations from TV shows that analyse the media, as well as lawyers. It paints a very bleak and not unexpected picture of the state of journalism. While there are some stories from the US and Australia, it is focused on the UK, but it's just as relevant everywhere in the western world. The book is well researched and authoritative.
There are good points in this book. The history of the press and how it evolved into it's current form is interesting, as is the effect of corporate ownership on the press. Other points relating to staffing shortages and underchecking of sources is also relavant and interesting. There are also bad points. The author gets very close at times to allowing his work to become a diatribe against the conservative press. If you are liberal minded, this book will merely confirm your belief that all evils in the press are of a conservative bent. If you are conservative, you will probably put this book down after the umpteenth example of curruption in the conservative press, people and organizations and few to no examples of corrupt liberals. If you are a moderate, as I am, you will feel as though you are only hearing one side of the story.
"You'll never buy a newspaper again"
On the whole this is a well written, well paced look at the systems, companies and publications that provide the news to an eager public. The examples the author uses to back up his opinions are both alarming and entertaining, although there is a certain degree of teary eyed "back in the day" sentimentality about certain aspects. And this is really the downside of the book, with the author believing that the way to fix the news is to throw more reporters, and more money, at it. His stories of The Daily Mail serve as ample proof that this isn't necessarily the answer, and in that regard he comes across as somewhat naive.
Having said that, the book is a thoroughly entertaining listen, and is excellently narrated. I could quite comfortably listen at double speed. It really will, reservations aside for a moment, make you look at the news in a new light. The author's take on well covered subjects, for example the heroin trade, is eye opening. I only wish I had the time and inclination to follow up the author's claims in the same way he suggests reporters do because I'd hate the author to be guilty of the acts he accuses others of.
"depressing news indeed"
the world really is doomed if the "mad media" is as bad as it is painted here and if the peers that be don't fix it and if the people just swallow it all up as "news" and truth.
"I'm Chris Morris, and the earth is flat"
The content itself is impressive, but the narrator sounds like Chris Morris in "On the Hour" which makes it hard to take the book seriously in places. Probably better to read the book.
This is a fascinating insight into the world of journalism, where so much of what is reported today ranges from biased spin and half-truths to downright deceit. Many of the stories are shocking and very revealing about the people who write the news, and those that employ them.
This book is an enlightening commentary on an industry that is undergoing fundamental change, and leaves one wondering what sources are going to replace the mainstream media into the future, because we simply can't depend on them any more.
"The 'real' conspiracy?"
This is a well researched and well written book which gives the insider's view of the current UK and western media, especially print. The author has come up trough the ranks of reporting the 'news' for newspapers, and tells of the demise of reporting actual facts and supplementing editorial spin or, in the case of the Daily Mail- making shit up. His insights are revealing, sometimes absurd and humorous. If you were a conspiracy nut you would be listening to this book and shouting out "See I'm not paranoid- they are after me" although the narrative is evenly balanced and the bizarre stories are blunted with a stone of reason and common sense. At 17 hours long this book is too brief. I wanted more when it finished and found myself going back to the beginning and listening again. No matter what your political and media preferences are, this book will have you transfixed and have your jaw dropping on occasion with credible disbelief of the state of the current media. The title is very telling of the way the media works. I would recommend this book to everyone. I would have given it 5 stars if there was more of it- lets hope there will be another, SOON!
"Starts well, then falls flat"
I am extremely interested in media critique, and at first, this book delivered great insight into the industry. But around the halfway mark, the author goes way to deep into specific stories, delving into who knew what and when and so on in something that starts to smell a lot like conspiracy theories.
Great narration of a very important, eye-opening book. Nick Davies' account of media gone wrong is riveting.
"Newspapers are self indulgent liars...apparently"
Various facts that support the notion that the media, particularly the press frequently publish stories that are not true/correct. Who knew? well Nick Davies gives lost of explanation and evidence citing many examples. Well written but I personally lost interest pretty quickly.
"Sad but true."
Well written with evidence to support the points made and good narration. I doubt I will ever read a newspaper again!
"Repetitive and longwinded"
The first couple of hours were quite interesting but after that, it became a very long-winded rant about everything that's wrong in the media world. Whilst I don't disagree with much the author writes, a) it could have been done in half the time b) the narrator could have speeded up A LOT.
The narration is one of the prime factors that lets this book down and it was a very painful listen. I carried on until the end out of a sense of duty but honestly it's not worth it. If you want a proper media world read, head for Andrew Marr's My Trade, infinitely better.
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