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Skyful of Lies & Black Swans

This study highlights how in a moment of major, unexpected crisis the institutions of power - whether political, governmental, military or corporate – face a new, acute vulnerability of both their influence and effectiveness.

"Nik Gowing has a fine reputation as a media geometrician who is always ahead of the curve. This publication enhances that reputation still further. He is also an ace cartographer, mapping a technological terrain seemingly in constant digital mutation. I am full of admiration." 

           - Peter Hennessey FBA, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London.

"This paper gets to the heart of a huge issue for politics, journalism and democracy, the uncontrolled impact of instant news on the workings of society.  Both graphic and thoughtful, Nik Gowing asks the questions none of us should duck, least of all political leaders."

          - Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Director of the Ditchley Foundation, Former UK Ambassador to the UN.

"Few people have done as much as Nik Gowing to draw attention to the impact of new media technologies on political affairs. This should be mandated reading for anyone who might have to deal with a major crisis and still believes that they will be able to control the pace of events and the disclosure of information."

           - Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies and Vice Principal, King's College London.

Nik Gowing has been a main presenter for the BBC's international 24-hour news channel BBC World News since 1996, where he presents World News Today with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London and location coverage.  For 18 years he worked at ITN where he was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1994).  He has been a member of the councils of Chatham House (1998-2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005-present), and the Overseas Development Institute (2007-), the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (1996-2005), and the advisory council at Wilton Park (1998-).  He is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation.  In 1994 he was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center in the J. F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

A hard copy of this publication can be purchased from the University of Oxford Online Store or Amazon.

  • Read Nik's article 'Real-time media is changing our world' on Comment is free here
  • Read a review of 'Skyful of lies..' by Financial Times columnist Stefan Stern here
  • Listen to Nik discussing 'Skyful of lies...' on BBC Radio 4: The Media Show here  


Nik Gowing