Flat Earth News - the debate

Is a culture of “churnalism” destroying real journalism in the UK?

This is one of the central charges of Guardian writer Nick Davies’ book: Flat Earth News – the gloves-off investigation into Fleet Street which has caused a storm of controversy and debate in UK journalism.

And it is the question Press Gazette will be asking – and hoping to answer – at a debate being held at the London College of Communications, in Elephant and Castle, London, on Wednesday, 5 March.

As will as dissecting the journalism of specific news organisations – Davies has used new academic research to argue that the majority of news content in the UK national press is made up of recycled PR and news agency copy.

He claims journalists have been hoodwinked by PRs, vested interests and governments on stories ranging from the millennium computer bug to weapons of mass destruction and the war in Iraq.

His book also contains a damning indictment of work practices in the regional press – with reports of journalists chained to their desks churning out stories and hardly ever meeting real people face to face.

To discuss the state of UK journalism – and some of the charges raised by Davies – Press Gazette has assembled the following panel:

  • Nick Davies – Guardian writer, former British Press Awards reporter and feature writer of the year and author of Flat Earth News
  • Andrew Gilligan – the former Today Programme reporter whose investigations into the office of London Mayor Ken Livingstone have prompted a police inquiry and the suspension of one of Livingstone’s closest aides
  • Malcom Starbrook – editor of the East London Advertiser, a former editor of the Croydon Advertiser and member of the Press Complaints Commission
  • Michelle Stanistreet – President of the NUJ and a journalist with the Daily Express
  • Sally Costerton – UK chief executive of PR firm Hill & Knowlton
  • Dominic Ponsford – editor of Press Gazette

We hope to announce more speakers shortly.

In the meantime we have one hundred free tickets to allocate to Press Gazette readers.

To apply for a ticket, email Alexandra Pont with your name, job title and company.

Press Gazette’s “Churnalism” debate takes place on Wednesday, 5 March, from 7pm to 9pm at the London College of Communications. There will be free drinks and refreshments both before and aftwards – and ample opportunity to ask questions and debate the issues on the floor.

It should be a very stimulating night – and we are expecting high demand for tickets – so those wishing to attend are advised to get their names down quickly.

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