News and How to Use It

Subtitled “What to believe in a Fake News world”, the book, an alphabetical dictionary of terms, presents less of a narrative and more of an opportunity for skimming and sampling.

What follows is in alphabetical form and is, inevitably, quite subjective and a bit random. It deals with some aspects of how journalism – at its best and worst – is practiced, thought about, paid for, owned, controlled and influenced. To many insiders these are givens: to many outsiders they are mysteries. (page xii)

What has changed is that, say, thirty years ago financial journalism was widely trusted, even though corrupt journalists were readily identifiable; now, conversely, there’s no evidence of corruption and yet their work is widely mistrusted. (page 89)

So much of newspap0er health coverage is aimed at the worried well. (page 109)

As news organisations become financially enfeebled, they can afford to take fewer risks against well-resourced subjects who can launch injunctions, libel suits and privacy cases with the click of their fingers. (page 124)

NEWS AMNESIA The syndrome – familiar to us all – that when journalists write about something we actually know about, we may find it superficial or actively misleading. And yet we continue to read journalism about other people and subjects with our scepticism suspended…..The novelist and director Michael Crichton described the habit in 2002, even naming it after the particle physicist, Murray Gell-Mann. (page 172)

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