Daily Archives: 4 February 2008

New, improved news: 80 per cent fact-free

The traditional media love to paint themselves as journals of record, with institutional checks and balances to check facts, separate the wheat from the chaff and print only the news fit to print because the truth involves us all, because the truth shall prevail, etc. But how much of that claim is real and how much is pure advertising?


Flat Earth News, a new book by Nick Davies, is attracting plenty of attention in Britain for its frontal assault on newspapers carrying dodgy stories. Davies, Professor Justin Lewis and researchers at Cardiff University surveyed 2,000 stories from the big papers in Britain. Their findings?

“First, when they tried to trace the origins of their ‘facts’, they discovered that only 12% of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters. With 8% of the stories, they just couldn’t be sure. The remaining 80%, they found, were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry. “Second, when they looked for evidence that these ‘facts’ had been thoroughly checked, they found this was happening in only 12% of the stories.”

Read the full story here: The difference between journalism and churnalism