A song lyric for the title. It’ll never catch on.
Indeed, in a beautiful twist of fate today, as I approached the building in which I work, the above song, a multi-lyrical masterpiece by Kleerup, came on to my Ipod. I had to smile. It’s how I feel about now.
I am big on posting my unfinished work, and here was the start of a review I was writing on Nick Davies’s Flat Earth News. It was a compelling read, I got through it reasonably quickly and thought it had a lot to say. The thing is, I can’t be bothered to finish the review. 4 out of 5 stars, though….
This is, so the word on the street goes, an “important book”. It is the book that breaks the omerta that one should not speak about the art and craft of journalism when the author is a journalist. It blows the lid on the churnalism, the lies, the dark arts, the unscrupulous behaviour, the downright bullying and sheer emptiness of what passes as news and its dissemination to the masses.
Did it live up to the hype?
It probably did. What it didn’t do is shock me.
I think the book probably had more impact at the time it was released, and it does set forth some horrific detail on how news works, both in terms of the sources of news, and the production of the reports in several of your daily papers. I am not shocked because, as you might know, I haven’t bought a newspaper in years. As places to get to know what’s going on, the newspaper is less interested in the stories place in history, but more about “His Story”. That “his” being the editor, the proprietor or the PR man/woman who wanted the story run in the first place.
News in itself is not commercial and should never be. Everyone should have access to what is going on in the world, and not be forced to pay for their knowledge. If you choose to pay a sum of money for a newspaper, and it’s getting more ludicrous to have them described in terms of news, rather they are just papers now, you are buying someone’s point of view. Just as if you click the link to this blog, or my cricket one, or my football one, you are accessing my view. I don’t class my blogs as “news sites” rather as “opinion sites” or “personal diaries”.
What could not be doubted was the influence newspapers had in seeking out stories. I’ve worked in an area dealing with newspaper journalists and they were a royal pain in the you-know-what. Once you realise it is their job, it gets a little easier, but they were pushy sods, a bit rude, a bit aggressive. But at least they were trying to find out something, and wouldn’t give up, and it wasn’t in the least bit glamorous. Now it is all puff pieces, PR fluff, and the occasional snipe at a policy or group of people a paper doesn’t like.
Nick’s tour around the PR world, the news agency world, the decline of reporting teams such as Insight, the influence of politicians on the papers, the proprietors on the politicians, and the lack of staff at regional level, the original lifeblood of stories, is saddening. He recounts excellent examples of how a bag of crap story like a man taking out insurance on emotional stress during the World Cup could go around the world without one person seeming to stop and say “you know what, I think I heard of that one before….”. He tells of how thing worked on a larger scale, with a large section devoted to the Iraq war build-up and how political influence won over the Observer.
Make out of that half-review what you will.
As I said in the post below, I am ploughing through Dirty Wars, which I believe is over 700 print pages long (reading it on the Kindle). I have a massive backlog of books, but at the moment music is my focus as I’m loading up the Ipod with tons of the stuff from my past. I wish I could convert all my vinyl, but nothing seems to work well.
As the days pass from not posting on HDWLIA, it gets worryingly easier not to do it. Not sure that’s a good thing.
Southeastern were 5 minutes late this morning. Big deal. I once had the idea of writing a blog on them, but thankfully that fell by the wayside too.
The one thing I could go to town on with a blog is office politics, but the risk is just too high to do it. Some of the things would have you giggling in the aisles, others would have you raging. I suppose all jobs are like that.
One cricket note – not even an interview in The Guardian with Mark Ramprakash can avoid putting Cook in the headline. As one of Ramps biggest fans, I can only say if you had a run of form like his in the England team, you’d have been dropped. As you were…..