Breaking the News: The British Library Exhibition Book

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Whether tainted by censorship and suppression or hailed as a liberator of truth, the news is integral to our daily life. From the first newspaper publication just over 400 years ago to today's 24-hour coverage of events in print and online, on television and on social media, the scope of news has altered drastically and permanently. Fast-evolving technologies and attitudes have shaped not only how we make news but, more crucially, how we consume it.

But what makes an event 'news'? Are we justified in our skepticism about shocking images and inflammatory headlines? Or is the news a vital tool, enabling worldwide activism movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and enforcing necessary scrutiny of the ethics of those in power?

Accompanying a major exhibition at the British Library, Breaking the News asks prescient questions about how reporting in Britain has written the narrative for pivotal moments in history. Among them are a grisly seventeenth-century murder, Covid-19 public information campaigns, the NSA leak by Edward Snowden and the media's treatment of celebrities from Princess Diana to Jade Goody. Short profiles also highlight influential news breakers through history, including writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, photojournalist Mohamed Amin and environmental rights activist Greta Thunberg.

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