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Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,695 ratings  ·  147 reviews
After years of working as a respected journalist, Nick Davies broke the unwritten rule of the media by investigating the practices of his fellow colleagues. In this eye-opening exposé, Davies uncovers an industry awash in corruption and bias. His findings include the story of a prestigious Sunday newspaper that allowed the CIA to plant fiction in its columns; the newsroom ...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Random House UK (first published 2008)
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Popular Answered Questions
Theo Everything in the book is true. Obviously there are opinions from the author but this is real stuff.
Bad Girl Bex Not really. Although at 5hrs and 10mins the author quotes someone who uses the f-word about 4 times in a single sentence. But this is included really …moreNot really. Although at 5hrs and 10mins the author quotes someone who uses the f-word about 4 times in a single sentence. But this is included really just to emphasise the frustrated desperate state of news reporting at the time. Swearing doesn't really crop up much at all in this book, I'm about 6hrs into it and that one quote was the only instance of swearing I've come across.(less)

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Start your review of Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, this is cheerful stuff. Nick Davies, respected journalist, gives the lie to the notion that the biggest threat to journalism is the interference of owners or the threats of advertisers. His thesis is that the drive for profits has driven journalism to the brink of destruction. Staff cuts and spending cuts have resulted in fewer journalists working with fewer resources on more stories. Unfortunately those stories are provided by the booming new sector that is the Public Relations industry, ...more
Emma Sea
"Media outlets pick easy stories with safe facts and safe ideas, clustering around official sources for protection, reducing everything they touch to simplicity without understanding, recycling consensus facts and ideas regardless of their validity because that is what the punters expect, joining any passing moral panic, obsessively covering the same stories as their competitors. Arbitrary, unreliable and conservative . . . this flow of falsehood and distortion through the news factory is clearl ...more
Mark Love
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
As a news junkie who loathes Metro and the redtops, this was right up my street, and depressingly re-inforced my suspciions/cynicisms and added a whole heap more.

John Humphries says "If you watch the news you should read this book" but don't let him put you off. This is an insider's expose of how and why journalism has descended into "churnalism" - regurgitating agency news feeds, press releases and celebrity gossip as "news", squeezing more column inches from tired journalists, and more pounds
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Propaganda is as old as the flood... I'm not a particular fan of big media but Nick is. Especially if its of the type of which he approves. We're awash with news today, but the reader has to employ his own common sense and fact check himself if he really wants to ensure the veracity of any story. In fact he should have always done that rather than leaving it anonymous editors to do it for him.

In a lot of cases we only need the story. We shouldn't need a professional to interpret it for us. That
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting, depressing, and a little repetitive. Worth a read, but the writing style is dull and becomes a chore after the first few chapters.
James Hartley
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I studied as a journalist; worked as one for a while, and can sadly vouch for Mr Davies´ grim take on the world of the media. Things have probably worsened since this book was written - the internet has decimated the industry and more than ever it´s a wing of the PR and Marketing world.

Two bugbears for me, which Davies addresses, among others: one, the under-representation of real news, that is, local news which might make a difference to local communities. The national papers use a common agend
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
An excellent discourse on why you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspaper, hear on the radio or see on TV. Davies digs into the pitfalls of for-profit (above every other consideration) journalism, corruption, biased reporting, the problems arising from valueing speed over accuracy, and much more.
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Hopelessly late in reading this, but Nick Davies´ Flat Earth News is probably more true now than it was when published first in 2008, before the great culmination of scandals that brought down the Sun and threatened the Murdoch media empire.

Davies argues that by the establishment of media empires in the 1980 and 1990s there started a trend towards rationalisation of news production. Budgets were lowered, fewer journalists were required to produce more news. This has led to a decline in the quali
David Cheshire
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Phone hacking is not in the index of this book, published in 2008 so just before that story broke. Every other journalistic crime is. The central argument is that corporate commercialism in what we used to fondly call "Fleet Street", has created two huge abuses: firstly cost and corner cutting, so "churnalists" no longer have time to check stories,but rely on re-churning everybody else's stories; secondly profit-chasing, resulting in news "values" which pander to market prejudice and the rejecti ...more
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
It seemed interesting when I picked it up in the library: an insider account on how the modern media are being corrupted by mass hysteria, propaganda and commercial objectives. Unfortunately "Flat Earth News" has become an endlessly long list of examples that are treated in the utmost detail. You quickly get the jest of it, but start to wonder if yet another example is really going to make the point even better. The book seems to favour quantity over quality where evidence is concerned. Therefor ...more
Sergey Bir
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favourite
People have faces, organisations don't have faces - they have masks. A face reflects what is inside the person but a mask is a construct. What is behind the mask can be entirely different to what is portrayed at the front.
The media is not the face of the world. It's not the face of anything. It is a bunch of masks that are produced to sell. You wouldn't trust an entertaining anecdote on the back of a pack of chips to tell you the truth about reality so why would you trust the media? You trust th
Thomas Edmund
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book (published first in 2009) at the end of 2017 raises much curiosity how Davies would react and analysis today's "fake-news" "Post-Truth" environment. In many respects Flat-Earth News lays the ground-work for modern 'news' and explains clearly how we got to this place of political echo chambers, shareable garbage and click-bait. The greatest irony is towards the conclusion of the story Davies saw the internet as a possible solution to the problem of inaccurate and biased media.

Vasil Kolev
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This could also have been called "why news is crap and should not be believed". The book itself, even though showing the somewhat obvious fact that most journalism nowadays is biased, distorted and outright wrong, has the same issues itself - there are parts where you stop and start asking yourself "why is this piece of information presented in this way?".

The book is focused on the UK with bits on the US, but as the media is becoming more and more global (and more crap), a lot of the description
Thorkell Ottarsson
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. Even more relevant today than it was back when it was written. It fact it shows what went wrong and why people like Trump and Putin could so easily manipulate the media. So if you want to understand how we got here, this is a good place to start.

It is also a sober reminder of why we have to be critical of the media, even though it is a necessary foundation of democracy. In fact if the media is the 4th state, then the reader is the 5th state.

As a side note. I thought I could not
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Vote: 3,50
Class: P-B1 (FP)

This was a surprising book, which made me open my eyes about what I diary read in the newspaper.
This was also a sad book, because now I know for certain (I already had my doubts!) that much of what I see in the news has very little to do with the truth.
It was a surprising book and it was a good book to read, but it has its flaws:
- it is too long and often slow to come to the point;
- the author too has his personal battles and prejudice: is anger toward Murdoch (maybe j
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Flat Earth News examines the reasons behind the decline in both standards and depth of news media in the UK.

Nick Davies looks at the changing face of media owners. They are no longer people whose main interest is good news reporting but business folks whose focus is profit over good journalism and that is reflected in ever increasing cuts in budgets and resources leaving little time for fact checking.

The increasing reliance upon and influence of PR is examined. It's sobering to note that there
Tara van Beurden
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, books-read-2012
This is a really important book. I stumbled upon it in the back of another book (I think it was Female Chauvinist Pigs) and when I was working in London I found it in Barnes and Noble and bought it. It was not lost on me that I discovered the TV show ‘The Newsroom’ about two months after I read this book, late one night while staying in New York City with my parents, after I’d finished my stint in London. This book compliments what the show is trying to do.
Davies worked on Fleet Street, home of
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read the Vietnamese version of this book. Hence, any comment/judgement in this review is only applicable to the translation.

First of all, the publisher successfully managed to publish a book with low translation quality. To think this book is an award-winning work of a well-known journalist, I strongly recommend a re-do of the translation. Many times it was easy to guess the English words for the Vietnamese texts that I was reading (and I was so sure that my reverse translation would be very c
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
this should be compulsory reading for anyone who reads newspapers or who likes to pass on 'news' items as truth. and while you might think you are aware of the role of PR in current media, or how rupert murdoch is changing global media and politics, this is still a necessary read. davies makes his statements and then backs them up with example after example of how media manipulates and is manipulated. and unfortunately, the conclusion is rather depressing.

i reread the bit on chernobyle, after a
May 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terry Clague
"The type of political culture that accompanies the rise of the corportate media system worldwide looks to be increasingly like that found in the US: in the place of informaed debate or political parties organizing along the full spectrum of opinion, there will be vacuous journalism and elections dominated by public relations, big money, moronic political advertizing and limited debate on tangible issues. It is a world where the market and commercial values overwhelm notions of democracy and civ ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating insight, but at the same time quite a depressing read as you learn about the inner workings of not just the press, but all of our news media. Most of us know that our news maybe biased, distorted a little, small details omitted to steer opinion, but after reading this book, the situation is far more serious than that, where stories are systematically fabricated, unchecked, and cynically skewed to alter our perception of the world. This book isn't a rant from some journalist with a gr ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: journalism, press
A real eye opener for all those that are active in the media sector. Shocking in his description of the bad practices in the press: the conscious dirty tricks and the link between press and politics, but that was already largely known. New in this book: the mechanism of 'churnalism'. Handsome, well reasoned analysis, although occasionally a bit ambiguous in some of his examples, as for instance in his stance for the legalization of heroin.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Depressing, yet excellent. A highly insightful study into how news, global and otherwise, has been distorted by the relentless quest for breaking news, and how cuts have weakened local news immensely. Papers such as The Daily Mail and the Murdoch collection are the worst on the planet, and are threatening the very fabric of our society. Read this.
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I chose to listen to the Audio Book version to fit into my on-road activities...
Very intersting!
Amy Laurens
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Stop trying to make "Flat Earth News" happen. It's not going to happen.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it

Davies covers a number of compelling topics that fall into the dubious category of flat earth news. From the Y2K bug to Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. He also touches the tip of the phone hacking scandal iceberg, that he would later go onto develop further and fully on his outstanding, “Hack Attack” a few years later. He also gives a terrifying insight into the CIA’s reach and power within the world of media, describing its latent presence in almost every capital city in the world.

He bri
Simon Howard
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I’ve been putting off writing this review for a little while now. It’s a difficult one for me. I only read Flat Earth News because so many people had recommended it, and most of them are people whose views I tend to agree with. But I’m afraid I didn’t really like it.

Flat Earth News is Nick Davies’s “exposé” of the practices of the media. Nick is, of course, a brilliant Guardian journalist, and is perhaps the journalist most responsible for the eventual uncovering of the widespread use of phone h
Richard Bartholomew
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Flat Earth News" is Davies' term for a particular phenomenon: "A story appears to be true. It is widely accepted as true. It becomes a heresy to suggest that it is not true – even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion and propaganda". Davies makes the case that such Flat Earth News is now endemic in the media: not because of a conspiracy to placate advertisers or (primarily) because of editorial interference by owners: rather, it is "forces of commercialism which now provide the greatest ...more
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