By 1949, George Orwell was dying. He didn’t know it, but the next 12 months would be the journalist’s final stand against totalitarianism.
Stuck in the Cranham Sanatorium in the Cotswolds, Orwell, real name Eric Blair, was attempting to get over the ‘white plague’ of tuberculosis, publish 1984, which he had completed by December 1948, and spread the readership of Animal Farm.
He would also cooperate with a new secretive organisation, The Information Research Department (IRD), and correspond with an agent operating for another unit from the secret world, The Pond.
In a documentary published on the Tech, Power and Media podcast today (across all platforms here), Orwell’s relationship with the secret world and his final efforts are explored.
For the project, Dr Paul Lashmar, co-author of Britain's Secret Propaganda War, Dorian Lynskey, author of The Ministry of Truth, and Dr Mark Stout, a former CIA officer and intelligence historian, were interviewed. Voice actors played Orwell and Celia Kirwan, an IRD official and friend of the socialist writer.
The late Norman Reddaway, former diplomat and IRD co-founder, also makes an appearance thanks to an unearthed 1993 interview of him by the Imperial War Museum, London.
The documentary sheds new light on the connections between the post-war British and US governments and prominent journalists and authors. The period (1949-1950) predates the infamous Army–McCarthy hearings of April 1954, which have arguably skewed the way we look back at the start of the Cold War and the intentions of those who helped the West’s agencies.
If you’re a fan of Orwell or a modern history buff, you should find the documentary enjoyable and even surprising in parts.
💼 Jobs and business
Crypto news site Decrypt just brought on a new Editor in Chief, Daniel Roberts from Yahoo Finance, and a new Executive Editor, Jeff John Roberts from Fortune. Both started this week and FN is told the site has some big-name interviews coming up in the first week of March.
Top UK editor secretly supported a murderous terror group.
Former Q editors are launching New Cue on Substack.
Podcast consulting services are becoming a thing.
Gannett Media gains momentum with online subs.
One of the best front pages you will see this year.
Lisa Chow is the new editor of NYT’s The Daily.
How The Washington Post was remade.
Thoughts on mega-publishing.
PBS is adapting to streaming.
Another Podcast: Clubhouse and the endless cycles of social apps.
Servant of Pod: What does a podcast producer do?
The state of the pod industry in the UK.
Recode Media: Australia vs Facebook.
History of Ideas: Butler on machines.
🤖 Technology and research
Most ads you see are selected by a reinforcement AI model.
How Americans navigated the news in 2020.
Conspiracy theories take hold at 14.
NFTs are all the rage.
Knight Media Forum between Monday 1 March and Wednesday 3 March.
IRE's annual data journalism conference between Wednesday 3 March and Friday 5 March.
The Fake News Play between Wednesday 10 March and Saturday 13 March.
News Product Alliance Summit between Tuesday 30 March and Wednesday 31 March.
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FN 86 can be found here
FN 85 can be found here
Image: Future News, “TV Error" by Sibe Kokke is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/4142290...