More than ever before, the media is being controlled by those who have most money, power and influence, Guardian veteran Nick Davies tells Lee Bunce

By Lee Bunce
Published: September 26, 2008

You can’t believe everything you read in the papers - but what if we can scarcely believe any of it? That is the conclusion of Flat Earth News, the devastating new book by distinguished journalist Nick Davies, an explosive expose of the inner workings of the global press.

Working primarily at The Guardian for over 30 years, Davies’ investigations into everything from drugs policy to failing schools have put him amongst the most respected reporters of his generation, winning him numerous awards along the way. But in his latest book he investigates the profession that made him - with some truly alarming results.

Davies is puzzled by how British newspapers consistently follow a conservative ideology when there is no state censorship.

“I discovered that the average Fleet Street reporter is now filling three times as much print space as they were in 1985. This means on average they have only a third of the time for each story.

“Essentially reporters are no longer able to do the things they need to do to do their job effectively. They’re not out there finding stories, making contacts, or even checking facts. They’re just recycling second hand information - what I call churnalism.”

Davies research found that a staggering 54% of British news stories sampled were PR produced.

“More than half of the news stories in the best newspapers in the country are being written and produced by PR people acting for the government or corporations - that can’t be right.

“A second piece of analysis of more than two thousand UK news stories from four quality newspapers, plus the influential Daily Mail, showed that the central facts in the stories sampled hadn’t been thoroughly checked.

“You think you would find the answer is 100% because that’s what journalism is. The answer was 12% - a frightening conclusion.

“This is what happens when you don’t have time to do your job properly. Journalists end up recycling copy from press agencies and PR product, neither of which are reliable sources of information about the world.” . . .

Continue reading the September 26, 2008 article from the University of Edinburgh's The Student . . .