Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve just finished Flat Earth News by Nick Davies (published by Vintage), a brilliant expose of modern journalism. He courageously examines our increasingly-corrupt global media and what he calls `the mass production of ignorance.’Visit Carol Anne Davis's website.
Having personally been misquoted by journalists - and had comments taken out of context - many times, I was already aware that what an interviewee says and what the public gets to read can vary wildly. I also knew that papers invented stories: one Sunday tabloid produced a feature about a celebrity prisoner being beaten up, but, at the time, I was doing research in that prison and know for a fact that the celebrity was unscathed.
I was also aware of how difficult it is to get an alternative view published in Britain’s press as, after Colin Stagg’s trial was rightfully halted, I wrote a feature about his innocence. The magazine which had commissioned the piece reneged on the deal as the common misconception was that Mr Stagg had gotten away with murder. A writer who championed him even had to go to New Zealand to get a book on the case printed, as no British printer wanted to get involved. Stagg was recently given an apology from the police and much-deserved compensation, after DNA proved that he wasn’t Rachel Nickell’s killer, but the tabloids continued to hound him, branding him as workshy. In reality, his vilification in the press had made it impossible for him to find and keep a job.
Flat Earth News illustrates that newspaper publishing today is crassly commercial, depoliticised and often devoid of a social conscience. Davies fearlessly names names and divulges the sort of anecdotes that most of us would hesitate to share with our best friends. Most media doors are probably closed to him from now on, but if we’re ever in the same bar I’ll be first in the queue to buy him a drink.