Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Summary - Hacking book: the difference between telling the truth and telling a story

Summary - Hacking book: the difference between telling the truth and telling a story:

Title: Hacking book: the difference between telling the truth and telling a story.
Author: Richard Peppiatt
Posted by: Roy Greensdale (Greendale Blog)
Publisher: The Guardian News and Media Limited
Date Published: 9th March 2012, 13:42 GMT
URL: [Accessed 13/12/12, 01:45pm]

Themes: Media, Journalism, Validity.

Summary of Article:

An extract of a comment by Richard Peppiatt - the recently resigned Daily Sun reporter. The excerpt is described by the poster as "... a heavily edited taster to his piece and concentrates on his comparison between truth-telling and story-telling, between the real and the imagined..."

Richard explains how the pivotal golden rule of journalism is to "...entertain the reader...", or at least he was told. Thence his articles were tailored to focus on the emotional rather than the factual.   

Celebrities are the best example. They are real people who have become caricatures of their former selves as the media takes this and pokes and pulls at its own whim. Allowing for greater enforcement and attention to be given. "This argument is constructed around the premise that the simulacra and the real are one and the same. The underlying assumption is that the celebrity of the red carpets and chat shows exists beyond a media construct."

He puts the limelight onto the clear hierarchic shape of the public and the media. Journalists filter what the hoi pollio can be informed of and in effect creates a higher social credibility for themselves. He argues that as morals, ethics and common sense are thrown out the window, there is now an emphasis on maximizing profit; leading to the profession conjuring their own realities and facets to dwell in.

Key Points:

  • Newspapers (mainly 'red tops'[1]) hold the mantra 'entertain over truth 'n' virtue'
  • Once people enter the journalistic occupation, they become "...grotesque caricatures..."
  • Many journalists leave morale behind for the sake of keeping to the newspapers agenda, profits and to engage and divulge the reader.

Key Quotes:

  • "As much as journalists consider themselves as the special beings that can see through the matrix, their arguments – the very same arguments that I have preached from many a barstool – betray them."

  • "But today the prerogative to entertain has superseded that to inform, with comment indistinguishable from news, fact indistinguishable from conjecture."
  • "This dubious self-justification based on a hyperreal interpretation of the world becomes a type of groupthink for those cocooned in a newsroom bubble of fellow storytellers, each incentivised, sometimes through bullying and manipulation, to suspend real-world moral judgments in pursuit of their newspapers' agenda."

My Response:

Being an avid Guardian reader, I had already archived this article earlier and was a very interesting read. Though I was not a reader of the Daily Sun when it was in circulation  I do agree with what Richard is saying, especially concerning celebrities. It's a pretty common sight to see a celeb scandal on the front page, the media clearly exploits and exaggerates particular aspects to fuel their own ulterior motives. The article relates to the British media which is eerily similar to that of the American media (FOX) in my earlier finding.

Taking this story, I will now look at how the media manipulates their stories; chiefly highlighting people's role in all of this. 


[1] (Accessed 15:08 19/12/12)

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