News, Truth and Crime

The Westray Disaster and Its Aftermath

By John McMullan  

Paperback $21.00

Are you a student?

The “truth” behind the Westray mine disaster remains a highly contested matter. This book is a study of how the media represented the events surrounding Westray. The absence of investigative reporting in favour of sensational stories about accidents and the pain and suffering of the bereaved obscures the truth. More importantly it presents a false truth so the question, “What happened at Westray?” remains largely unanswered. The answer to the question, “Who is responsible?” has been lost in the cover-up; a cover-up aided and abetted by the news reporting.

Through a recounting of the tragedy and the way it was reported in the media, McMullan seeks to show the relationship among power, discourse and the production of truth. The book provides an analysis of news as a truth-telling exercise; it is an analysis of how news is produced. Using Westray as a case study, this book analyzes the relations among power, claims-making and the production of news. In the final analysis, McMullan concludes reporters and editors, rather like corporate executives, seem to see their own virtue reflected in the guilt of those beneath them. They are not only confused about corporate crime, they are misdirected as to the distribution of crime in general. In the case of Westray, mystification and misdirection preserve the appearance of corporate respectability and helped keep hidden the underlying reality behind the explosion.

Request Exam Copy


  • Introduction
  • Power, Discourse and the Production of News as Truth
  • The Westray Explosion and Its Aftermath
  • Studying the Press and Westray


  • John McMullan

    Saint Mary’s University

    John L. McMullan is Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a former Department Chairperson and Criminology Graduate Studies Coordinator at Saint Mary’s University. Professor McMullan has held previous positions at the University of British Columbia and at Vanier College. He is the author of seven books, five government reports and over fifty academic articles on business crime, historical criminology, criminal organization, criminological theory, law enforcement, social regulation, media, crime and justice, and gambling and social policy. Dr. McMullan is a multiple research award holder and he has served on many university, academic, professional, and government commissions, councils and boards. He is a Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia. Professor McMullan has held visiting positions at Cambridge University and The London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom and at Simon Fraser University and Concordia University in Canada. At present Dr. McMullan is researching the role of public inquiries and corporate disasters and the socio-legal context of new forms of permitted gambling. He just completed a book on the Westray mine disaster entitled News, Truth and Crime: The Westray Disaster and its aftermath, (2005). His most recent research project is on Commercial Advertising, Social Regulation and Adolescent Gambling.

Subscribe to our newsletter and take 10% off your first purchase.