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Tomorrow’s news today: a fake FT from 2020

As seen at the London G20 protests, and online.

Inspired by a long line of activists, from Reclaim the Streets in Britain to The Yes Men, I decided to publish a fake Financial Times.

Its objective was primarily satirical, but there were also some serious points behind the jokes. The film below explains them in more depth.

My aim was to show how news gets skewed routinely, to suit the interests of FT readers, or as the editor calls them in private, “the global elite”.

They’d rather read unbiased stories, so they can figure out how to maximise their profits. But their assumptions don’t get challenged in “the pink ‘un”, especially not the pursuit of endless growth.

The paper took three months to put together, and most of that was spent laying out the text, and designing a website, with anonymous assistance. The Curmudgeonly Philip Challinor wrote the funny bits. The rest of the preparation work was mine.

This meant that far too little thought when into raising money, or recruiting volunteers, but a hundred or so turned up for distribution.We handed out 25,000 copies to commuters, at a cost of a few thousand pounds.

The media reaction was surprising. It was interesting how many people copied my press release, ignoring the thrust of the paper’s centrepiece analysis, which was later reprinted in the British Journalism Review.

All the stories in FT 2020 can be read here, and a copy in PDF downloaded here.

A selection of global coverage is appended.

PRESS RELEASE

27 MARCH 2009

Fake FT wakes up London to radical action

Concerned Londoners today handed out copies of a spoof Financial Times, urging journalists and big business to make the future possible by putting people first.

Set in 2020, the 12-page paper revealed how action in 2009 reined in climate change, saving billions from extinction. Carbon rationing didn’t kill us, it explained, despite the inconvenience to multinational companies. But we couldn’t have endless growth with finite resources. Editors even apologised for suggesting otherwise.

“We live on financial crimes,” the paper confessed in a front-page advert, which satirised a recent Financial Times billboard. “In a world of cold harsh truths,” it said, beside a panting St Bernard atop a mountain, “we rescue stories from the facts.”

Launched at dawn from behind Waterloo station, this coup was aimed at everyone’s excuses for apathy. Unless we change the way we live radically, we’ll make our world uninhabitable within decades. It’s time for drastic action, and if governments won’t take it, we have to do something ourselves.

“Journalists frame public debate, and the City frames public policy,” said Raoul Djukanovic, who edited today’s fake FT. “If they reframed their thinking, they could help build a different world instead of conning us with lifestyle porn and bubbles.”

The paper was a full-colour replica of the iconic pink ‘un, including news from Britain and abroad, and editorials and comment, poking fun at FT columnists. It was funded by donations on the Internet, and given away for free by volunteers. Tens of thousands of copies were printed – almost as many as the FT sells here daily.

Why bother, some commuters asked. “Newspapers won’t change the world, but they do spread words that can make people think,” said Marcos Marcuse, who handed out papers near London Bridge. “What are we going to tell our children? That we thought about trying to save ourselves, but it wasn’t ‘good business’ or ‘objective reporting’?”

Unsurprisingly, the PR trade press lifted most liberally from the above (as did news agencies, which spread the word worldwide).

Others took more time and ran full interviews. The most extensive of these, with Greenvoice, is posted here:

Another, with Christian Aid’s Ctrl.Alt.Shift magazine, is available here. There’s also more in this article by Orlando Hughes on the need to make statements.

Click on the links below for further articles.

THE GUARDIAN

Media Guardian, 27 March

Comment by George Monbiot, 27 March

Saturday Guardian, 28 March

Media Guardian, 30 March

Plus front-page links, 27 March and 28 March

FINANCIAL TIMES

Energy Source blog, 27 March

Markets Live, 27 March

PROSPECT

Diary, 4 May

INTELLIGENT LIFE

Economist Intelligent Life blog, 27 March

PRIVATE EYE

Street of Shame, 3 April

THE TIMES

The Times, 27 March

DAILY TELEGRAPH

City Diary, 27 March

CITYWIRE

Best of the Web, 27 March

THE BROWSER

The Browser, 27 March

GAWKER

Gawker, 27 March

BRAND REPUBLIC

Brand Republic, 27 March

MEDIA WEEK

Media Week, 27 March

REUTERS

Reuters, and Reuters TV, 27 March

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Agence France Presse, 27 March

LE FIGARO

Le Figaro, 27 March

TAZ

taz, 29 March

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

csmonitor.com, 29 March

WASHINGTON POST

Washington Post, 27 March

ABC NEWS

ABC News, 1 April

OTHER FOREIGN MEDIA

Globe and Mail (Canada)
Wall Street Italia (Italy)
The Independent (Bangladesh)
Economico (Portugal)
Diario de Noticias (Portugal)
Portal Imprensa (Brazil)
G1 (Brazil)
O Globo (Brazil)
Rebelion (Spain)

*****

BLOGS

Will Jordan’s Blog
Silenced Majority Portal
Antony Loewenstein
Tom Van Hout
Kemptown Ben’s Green Blog
Bad Conscience
Gaza Solidarity

*****

PICTURES

Fresh off the presses, March 2009

Promotional video, March 2009

Printing the paper, March 2009

Man in van, 27 March

FT vs FT 2020, 27 March

On the Eurostar, 31 March

G20 protests, 1 April

G20 protests, 1 April

Targeting young readers, April 2009

Volunteer recruitment flyer, March 2009

Volunteer recruitment flyer, March 2009



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