I recently listened to a really interesting podcast.  The podcast was an episode of Scroobius Pip’s ‘Distraction Pieces‘, which you can take a look at online, or download on itunes, and this particular edition featured a couple of people who work for the website fullfact.org.  I think that this episode is well worth a listen to, and the Full Fact website one that will be very useful to Media Studies students.

The two guests on the podcast talked about what Full Fact is, how it began and the work that they do.  The team at Full Fact basically investigate stories from the media, as well as online social-media, generally those that have some form of a political angle, and look into the basis of the claims made by the article, the people featured, the stats quoted etc, to see whether they are all factual and do not distort the facts.  They then then post an article on their website discussing the original article and, if it was inaccurate or mis-representative, they address these and debunk the claims made.

On the podcast they discuss stories such as one about illegal immigrants receiving more benefits than pensioners (click here) and an article in The Sun about knife crime and some very dodgy statistics that actually meant the law was being scrutinised to make mandatory jail sentences apply to anyone aged 16 and above, rather than 18 and above.  You can take a look at their website to get more of an idea of their work, and see the scope of what they do.  I think this will be a very interesting resource for you to be aware of, and potentially use in your course both in Media Studies, and potentially across other subjects too.

The discussion on the podcast is fascinating, and they give a real insight into the way the British press work, and the potential for inaccuracies easily working their way into print and igniting public outrage with false information.

All in all, this all links in to the idea that we, as consumers of media always need to read information with a critical idea.  We need to think about what the information is attempting to make us believe, how convincing the article is and the evidence that they have presented, and whether the evidence is reliable and trustworthy or if you might want to look further into the issues that are being discussed and presented.

Book review – The Humans, by Matt Haig

Andrew Martin, a maths professor at Cambridge University solves the Riemann hypothesis; a mathematical puzzle concerning prime numbers that may unlock answers to some of humanity’s biggest questions and assures a great technological improvement for humans. However learning of this on the other side of the universe the Vonnadorians, a more intellectually advanced race, decides humans are too destructive to let them keep their discovery.

The Vonnadorians are logical, mathematical and rational and have no array of emotions clouding their judgments. A single Vonnadorian is dispatched to kill any humans that may have discovered the information and finds itself in the body Andrew Martins (who is now effectively dead having been taken over by the alien Vonnadorian), trying to discover if his family or anyone knows the solution of the Riemann hypothesis. The Vonnadorian shows us a distorted vision of what perfection looks like. The Vonnadorian is able to store a great deal of theoretical knowledge but finds it harder to understand our human unreasoned and illogical norms. To understand us he must become one of us.

The book highlights the hypocrisy and ignorance humans choose rather than reality, although he sees that reality is something we are all subject to (if not more harshly for those who try and forget) “If getting drunk was how people forgot they were mortal, then hangovers were how they remembered.” It is also highlighted in the quote “They can talk about peace being a good thing yet glorify war.” Is this a true definition of humanity?

As a work of fiction, it leaves an eerie message of viewpoint, and what morals are considered “right” or even have any logic. Although we see ourselves as individuals and see our morals as subjective, the book shows us as one species and a fixed definition of what it means to be humans…. at the beginning. Yet it later showcases our diversity and individuality. It gives us perspective of how small we are in comparison to the entire universe. Nevertheless it allows us to see what a big impact we have on each other and potential outer sources (the Vonnadorian).

I won’t give too much away but it’s definitely a great read and an eye-opener to our world.


The Humans, by Matt Haig

Book Club Introduction

I have been running a small book club for pupils in year 10 in 2014-15.  It takes place every Wednesday morning before school, from 8.15-8.40am, in the Library.  Each week we get together for a breakfast snack and a chat about whatever we have been reading that week.

The thinking behind the club is primarily to get together to have an informal chat about books, share the books we love, recommend great books to one another and find new fantastic books to read.  Sometimes we all will have chosen to read the same book, other times different books by the same author, sometimes along a similar theme or genre, and yet other times completely different books altogether.  Each week we will have a chat about what we want to read next, and make a choice for what we are going to read next.  There is never any pressure to finish the book within the week and, if particular students didn’t like the book, Continue reading “Book Club Introduction”