Cautionary Tales – Poles Apart: How A Journalist Divided A City

4th August, 2023

Heroic explorer Frederick Cook has just returned from the very roof of the world, the first man to reach the North Pole. Or so he says. Journalist Philip Gibbs has been watching him, and he’s convinced he’s lying.

When Gibbs publishes that belief, he stands alone. Cook has a gripping manner and an excellent reputation: his winning tale must be true. Diners boo Gibbs at a restaurant, newspapers publish sly-looking caricatures of him, and he even receives threats of violence. But then, everything changes.

We often think of polarisation as a modern problem — but the story of Cook and Gibbs has much to teach us here.

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Further reading

This episode is based, with permission, on The Explorer and the Journalist by Richard Evans. (US pre-order)

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