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Nick Davies on Wikileaks

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Nick Davies recently gave a talk at the London offices of Google, presumably before the News of The World story gained new legs; talking about Wikileaks.

Conventional journalism is needed to interpret ‘data journalism’ and conventional journalism in the west is broken from media stories about the Y2K or millennium bug through to Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass-destruction.

  • Advertisers and proprietors actually have very little influence with developed world news organisations
  • The problem is due to the structure and process rolled out to make more money: cutting costs and increasing content output (that advertising can be put against it)
  • The average Fleet Street journalist today is filing three times as much content as they did in 1985 – leading to lower quality stories because fact-checking gets left behind
  • Only 12 per cent of 2,000 stories in UK’s top newspapers showed evidence of fact checking. 80 per cent of the content came from wire services and the PR industry
  • Wire services don’t have correspondents in many countries. For print, there are correspondents in 120 of the 200+ countries, and for television only in 80 countries. That means no on-the-ground coverage for countries like Ireland

His vision of the PR industry is amazingly cynical and naive at the same time.