Nick Davies is a journalist who reckons we’ve pretty much got there. Media production lines churn out bucketloads of synthetic fury pulled off the wires and reheated, surveys and scandals made up on the phone by Astroturf organisations, Trolls & Mr Angry rentaquotes. Resulting nutritional content makes Turkey Twizzlers seem Mighty Meaty.
What’s the alternative? Well you could have a news based profession with reporters given the time to get to know their contacts and check their stories, but that would take time and cost more than Fleet Street is willing to pay these days. Anyway why bother, when you can churn out sufficient crap to feed the trolls and hang the ads around? We need hard-headed journalists more than ever. Sadly, they don’t run the show any more.
Mr Davies gives plenty of chapter and verse. Remember the Millennium Bug? Planes were going to fall out of the sky. Life as we know it was going to grind to a halt. Accidental nukes would plunge us into a thousand year winter. There was a problem, but not of the sort or scale that filled the papers. In the event it all passed off harmlessly. Remember WMD? Western powers with the technology to read a newspaper from space somehow bought the pup that Iraq was bristling with WMD. Tony Blair told us Cyprus was twenty minutes from destruction. It was all, literally, a bloody lie — half a million innocent men, women and children died as a consequence, and thousands of troops. Mr Davies charts the sexing up of dodgy information that grew this bloody lie, and the way the media are led through the nose as asses are. He ends with a powerful chapter on “Mail Aggression” that shows exactly how the fount of the nation’s morals operates, plain brown envelopes and all. The nasty niff from the woodshed is Hypocrisy, friends.
If it ever strikes you that most of the stuff in the paper is spiteful, half baked, mass produced and pre-digested, it’s because, er, it is. That’s all the poor dears have the time to churn out. Anglican planes have been allegedly dropping out of the sky because of the Gay Bug for the past ten years now, and none has yet hit the ground. Gay WMD are pulsating in their silos twenty weeks away. Time will tell. Just keep your critical sense switched on, and don’t forget the Millennium Bug.
See also the Interesting discussion of hammed up news by Simon Barrow here.