Go on, consume!



Media Con-struct

By Rod Dickinson
This formation at east kennett in Wiltshire appeared overnight on Sat1/Sun2 July. 13 days after it appeared the formation became the centre of a flurry of media reports.
East Kennett
This included various radio reports and a page feature by the UK newspaper the Daily Mail on Friday 14 July 2000. Their headline "The Spookiest Crop Circle Yet" was probably prompted by crop circle enthusiast Charles Mallett, who was quoted in the article and had written that the East Kennett grid had a "heavy and oppressive feel... with too much "yang energy".
Mallett has been posting uncritical and wildly enthusiastic praise for every piece flattened wheat he comes across on his web page Sign of The Times throughout the summer of 2000.
The Mail article was misleading as a news item and having been written by the "the science correspondent, James Chapman" further fictionalised as a piece of science journalism. Before being a journalist and correspondent for the Mail Chapman was a member of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies (CCCS), and a speaker at their conferences. The CCCS have been promoting the idea that the formations have a non human origin for the last decade.
Chapman's piece in the Mail was a collection of anecdotes owing little to scientific investigation. His report efficiently propelled the mythology of the circles by including a wide range of anecdotes. Crop Circle researcher Lucy Pringle was quoted extensively. Pringle is known for collating reports of subjective experiences in circles [ see my review of her book ]. Presumably without any irony she was quoted as saying; "A friend took her Burmese cat in (the Circle) and the animal seemed to know it was something extraordinary."
The Mail's support for this kind of circle mythology was clearly an opportunistic construct, rather than accurate or scientific reporting. Last year they even commissioned us to create a formation for the paper. The photographs of the formation [ Mail Formation ] were published alongside an article that declared crop formations were of human origin.
This U turn in their reporting illustrates how the web of mediation that surrounds the circles is passed from individual to individual and from individual to media organisation. With all parties ultimately concerned with how compelling their stories are, rather than the veracity of the information contained within them.
Instances like this allow the mechanics of such processes to be revealed, along with the memetic structure that attends them: Where the stories, or ideas that survive are not those that are the most veracious, but are those that are the most repeated.