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A casual glance at the comments section on Guardian stories indicates that Americans may be reading the liberal UK press but are not taken in by it. For that matter quite a few British people aren't either. Toynbee-esque rantings in the Guradian website are usually greeted with a blizzard of sound rebuttals from right of centre and from both sides of the Atlantic.


This is unbelievable--British newspapers don't fact check? And worse, as seems to be implied by Toby Harnden, they fabricate quotes?

Tim Montgomerie

I once submitted an article to the New York Times for my former employer, Iain Duncan Smith MP. The NYT came back with a long list of questions about the sources of things Iain had written. Nothing like that has ever happened, JF, when I've dealt with a UK newspaper.


Thanks for calling that to our attention, Tim. I suppose that casts the BBC in a bit more of a positive light (that is, in comparison to other news sources available in the UK).

It would also explain how the Sunday Times can get away with "revealing" every six months that Israel is about to launch a nuclear strike on Iran. Sad, really.


By the way, Tim, you may have seen this already, but Tony Blair wrote an interesting farewell in The Economist that seems to be right down the alley of BritainandAmerica.com. It will be interesting to see whether these lessons will be heeded in the months ahead. The perfect test will be Afghanistan.


Part of the difference is probably that the US doesn't have very many national papers. So instead there's a very strong local press and some near-monopolies that allows for things to be far more rigorous and, sometimes, the tone to be a bit ponderous.

In the UK, on the other hand, there's a rather vicious, very competitive national market. So facts are slightly less important than shifting copy. That, if nothing else, make the news more interesting.


If there is an implication here US papers are more concerned about true truth because of fact checking I would dispute that. I don't think there is any higher standard motivated by integrity. Anyone can post 'facts' from any source. How the facts are used can mean another story all together and that story is the one most of our left-leaning outlets want known, many times leading the reader or listener to the exact opposite of a sober and true (or truer) reality. The fact is the more supposed facts, half-facts, distorted-facts... whatever, can create a more effective and believable misleading conclusion. Maybe because there is more diversity of information in the US, the Left understand more so the need to deceive, presenting at least an appearance of objectivity they feel can work.

Tim Montgomerie

Thanks JF - As a result I've written about Blair's piece here.


as seems to be implied by Toby Harnden, they fabricate quotes?

Posted by: JF | June 01, 2007 at 12:09 PM

Yes Boris Johnson has form there.....

The problem will journalism both sides of the Pond is word-padding. The Sunday papers are specialists at "Once upon a time...." but the laborious way journalists start from Tom B and extrapolate a story from one person shows how mediocre they are - the great Alistair Cooke could do it and make it invigorating and exciting.

The Americans are pompous and the English are slipshod. Very few journalists use each word with impact, and present a well-prepared, well-trimmed article devoid of fat.

Then again even British TV scriptwriters pad - they take a siple story and stretch it will polystyrene scenes and limpid dialogue....without the crispness of Film moire or even US series like Law & Order.

The comment about being inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity was a Disraelian quip on GOM but it could equally well apply to many journalists who think they are the main feature of the story, instead of having reporters who craft reports we get the "travels of a sixpence type of junior school essay


Mr. Harnden is correct. The Americans I know (and myself)read UK newspapers to get a different view of what's going on both globally and internally in our country. I do not trust any media and go on the assumption that the more I read the better I will understand the news. However, I do not just check out British media, I also regularly read German, Australian and Indian media too.

Andrew Ian Dodge

There are very few newspapers in the US like the Telegraph or the Times. To say the newspaper establishment in the US is conservative is to speak nonsense.


I agree with Steevo. In the US it is normal to read that this person said this, or that, only to find out later that what was said was part of a longer comment which is completely different from the emphasis placed by the writer of the article.

In the same light, it is normal for a headline to bear no relationship to the line of atack in the article.

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