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Breaking the News: non-fiction titles on the power of news and media

The news has shaped the world we live in for centuries. Today we carry it everywhere we go. As the news faces the existential threats of a post-truth, fake news world, the new Breaking The News exhibition from the British Library examines the vital role it plays in all our lives.

Find out more about the exhibition taking place in libraries.

Life on air: memoirs of a broadcaster, by David Attenborough

David Attenborough's career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned almost five decades and over the last 25 years he has become a leading natural history programme maker. In these memoirs, he describes the people and animals he has met, and the places around the globe that he has visited.

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Airhead: the imperfect art of making news, by Emily Maitlis

As anchor for the BBC's key political news programme, Newsnight, Emily Maitlis has interviewed some of the most powerful and controversial figures on the political scene. In 'Airheads', Emily explores how these powerful personalities came across. In the process she throws an illuminating torch on them, not just for what they represent, but as individuals in their own right - with all their flaws and charms.

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A life in questions, by Jeremy Paxman

During 25 years as BBC Newsnight's supreme inquisitor, Jeremy Paxman proved himself as the master of the political interview. From John Major to Theresa May and Tony Blair to Ed Miliband, he had them quaking in their boots. Here, the tables are turned: the quizmaster answers our burning questions, telling terrific stories and laughing at much of the silliness in the world. These are the long-awaited memoirs of the greatest political interviewer of our time.

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A day like today, by John Humphrys

For more than three decades, millions of Britons have woken to the sound of John Humphrys' voice. As presenter of Radio 4's 'Today', the nation's most popular news programme, he is famed for his tough interviewing, his deep misgivings about authority in its many forms and his passionate commitment to a variety of causes. This title charts John's journey from the poverty of his post-war childhood in Cardiff, leaving school at 15, to the summits of broadcasting.

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We chose to speak of war and strife: the world of the foreign correspondent, by John Simpson

In corners of the globe where fault-lines seethe into bloodshed and civil war, foreign correspondents have, since the early nineteenth century, been engaged in uncovering the latest news and - despite obstacles bureaucratic, political, violent - reporting it by whatever means available. It's a working life that is difficult, exciting and glamorous. These stories from the last 200 years celebrate this now endangered tradition.

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The war against the BBC, by Patrick Barwise

The BBC is a central part of British life, shared culture and international standing. It is the British public's most important and trusted news provider in a world of global fake news; a hugely popular, low-cost source of universally available information, education and entertainment - watched and listened to by most people for at least a couple of hours every day, despite stiff competition; and the crown jewel of the UK's global reputation.

But the BBC is in peril as never before in its long history. It faces ever-increasing competition and threats from new technology and consumption trends. It suffers relentless attacks from a range of hostile players motivated by their own political and commercial interests. And it faces deep funding cuts. These pressures may even destroy it within a generation. We must not end up recognising what its value was only when it's gone.

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The noble liar: how and why the BBC distorts the news to promote a liberal agenda, by Robin Aitken

To some, it is the voice of the nation, yet to others it has never been clearer that the BBC is in the grip of an ideology that prevents it reporting fairly on the world. Many have been scandalised by its pessimism on Brexit and its one-sided presentation of the Trump presidency, whilst simultaneously amused by its outrage over 'fake news'.

The author of this controversial book, who himself spent 25 years working for the BBC as a reporter and executive, argues that the Corporation needs to be reminded that what is 'fake' rather depends on where one is standing.

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The medium is the massage, by Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan is the man who predicted the all-pervasive rise of modern mass media. Blending text, image and photography, his 1960 classic The Medium is the Massage illustrates how the growth of technology utterly reshapes society, personal lives and sensory perceptions, so that we are effectively transformed by the means we use to communicate.

His theories, many of which are illustrated in this astonishing 'inventory of effects', force us to question how modes of communication have shaped society. This concept, and his ideas such as rolling, up-to-the-minute news broadcasts and the media 'Global Village' have proved decades ahead of their time.

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Angry people in local newspapers, by Alistair Coleman

The great British public are masters of the art of grumbling and no complaint is too trivial for the pages of our local newspapers. They are full of people pointing wanly at a bin, a mouldy pie, or even the empty space where their stolen bicycle isn't. This book will open up the APILN archives to find the all-time best stories from this much-loved blog, exploring popular subjects for fury, hilarious photos, weird news, angry poetry, furious letters and more.

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Ink in my blood, by Neil Haverson

Neil has witnessed it all in the ever-changing regional media world – from flongs, hot metal and office cricket to full colour printing, digital editions and the web. For much of his career, Neil worked in Eastern Counties Newspapers, latterly Archant’s commercial arm, but his talent as a humorous writer was discovered on the in-house Prospect magazine. This led to wry sporting columns and the famous ‘Fortress H’ dispatches in the Eastern Daily Press. In this book Neil presents the ‘greatest hits’ from his Norwich Mercury, Eastern Daily Press and Let’s Talk magazine columns and his reflections on half a century of ink in his blood.

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The civil power of the news, by Jackie Harrison

This landmark book is concerned with the civil power of the news. This power can be seen in the ways the news engages with public sentiment through a focus on three invariant civil concerns: identity, legitimacy and risk. The book analyses how news stories engage with these concerns to make civil and anti-civil judgements, which influence public sentiment and determine the boundaries we place and maintain around the society we live in.

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The Sunday Times investigates: reporting that made history, by Madeleine Spence

The Sunday Times national newspaper is famous for its insight investigative journalist team. This book profiles the stories from the team that have had the most impact from the Thalidomide case to the Coronavirus investigation.

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All the news that's fit to click: how metrics are transforming the work of journalists, by Caitlin Petre

From the 'New York Times' to 'Gawker', a behind-the-scenes look at how performance analytics are transforming journalism today - and how they might remake other professions tomorrow. Journalists today are inundated with data about which stories attract the most clicks, likes, comments, and shares. These metrics influence what stories are written, how news is promoted, and even which journalists get hired and fired. Do metrics make journalists more accountable to the public? Or are these data tools the contemporary equivalent of a stopwatch wielded by a factory boss, worsening newsroom working conditions and journalism quality?

In 'All the News That's Fit to Click,' Caitlin Petre takes readers behind the scenes at the 'New York Times,' 'Gawker,' and the prominent news analytics company Chartbeat to explore how performance metrics are transforming the work of journalism.

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Breaking news: the remaking of journalism and why it matters now, by Alan Rusbridger

How do we know any more what is true and what isn't? We are living through the greatest communication revolution since Gutenberg in which falsehood regularly seems to overwhelm truth. In 'Breaking News', Alan Rusbridger offers an urgent and agenda-setting examination of the past, present and future of the press and the forces menacing its freedom. The news media have been disrupted by huge and fast-moving changes in the economic and technological models of information. The growth of social media has changed journalism for ever as well as creating an existential threat to traditional players.

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Stop reading the news: a manifesto for a happier, calmer and wiser life, by Rolf Dobelli

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. In 2013 Rolf Dobelli stood in front of a roomful of journalists and proclaimed that he did not read the news. It caused a riot. Now he finally sets down his philosophy in detail. And he practises what he preaches: he hasn't read the news for a decade.

'Stop Reading the News' is Dobelli's manifesto about the dangers of the most toxic form of information - news. He shows the damage it does to our concentration and well-being, and how a misplaced sense of duty can misdirect our behaviour.

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How algorithms create and prevent fake news, by Noah Giansiracusa

From deepfakes to GPT-3, deep learning is now powering a new assault on our ability to tell what's real and what's not, bringing a whole new algorithmic side to fake news. On the other hand, remarkable methods are being developed to help automate fact-checking and the detection of fake news and doctored media. Success in the modern business world requires you to understand these algorithmic currents, and to recognize the strengths, limits, and impacts of deep learning - especially when it comes to discerning the truth and differentiating fact from fiction. This book tells the stories of this algorithmic battle for the truth and how it impacts individuals and society at large.

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The press freedom myth, by Jonathan Heawood

What does press freedom mean in a digital age? Do we have to live with fake news, hate speech and surveillance? Can we deal with these threats without bringing about the end of an open society? Heawood moves from the birth of print to the rise of social media. He shows how the core ideas of press freedom emerged out of the upheavals of the 17th century, and argues that these ideas have outlived their sell-by date. Heawood draws on his experience as a journalist, campaigner and founder of the UK's first independent press regulator. He describes his own crisis of faith as his commitment to absolute press freedom was rocked - first by phone hacking at the News of the World, and then by the rise of social media.

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Truth in our times: inside the fight for press freedom in the age of alternative facts, by David E. McCraw

In 'Truth in Our Times', McCraw recounts the hard legal decisions behind the most impactful stories of the last decade with candor and style. The book is simultaneously a rare peek behind the curtain of the celebrated organization, a love letter to freedom of the press, and a decisive rebuttal of Trump's fake news slur through a series of hard cases. It is an absolute must-have for any dedicated reader of The New York Times.

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Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the dangerous distortion of truth, by Brian Stelter

In 'Hoax', CNN anchor and chief media correspondent Brian Stelter tells the twisted story of the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News. From the moment Trump glided down the golden escalator to announce his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election to his acquittal on two articles of impeachment in early 2020, Fox hosts spread his lies and smeared his enemies.

Over the course of two years, Stelter spoke with over 250 current and former Fox insiders in an effort to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's multibillion-dollar media empire. Some of the confessions are alarming. "We don't really believe all this stuff," a producer says. "We just tell other people to believe it."

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The news: a user's manual, by Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton explores our relationship with 'the news' in this book full of his trademark wit and wisdom. Following on from his bestselling 'Religion for Atheists', Alain de Botton turns now to look at the manic and peculiar positions that 'the news' occupies in our lives. We invest it with an authority and importance which used to be the preserve of religion - but what does it do for us?

Mixing current affairs with philosophical reflections, de Botton offers an illustrated guide to the precautions we should take before venturing anywhere near the news and the 'noise' it generates. Witty and global in reach, 'The News' will ensure you'll never look at reports of a celebrity story or political scandal in quite the same way again.

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True or false: a CIA analyst's guide to spotting fake news, by Cindy L. Otis

Fake news is a term you've probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it's not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. But that doesn't mean that we should just give up on the idea of finding the truth. In this book former CIA analyst Cindy Otis will take readers through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biase.

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