Nick Jones

Media Ethics

Political journalism provides an ideal illustration of the contradictions and extremes of the British news media.  No other group of correspondents are so open to manipulation yet so determined to prove their independence by influencing and, whenever possible, by driving forward the news agenda.   Opinionated commentaries and a great tradition of campaigning journalism are a hallmark of the British press.  When reinforced by the constant push for exclusive agenda-setting setting stories, the impact can be pretty potent. 


By Andrew Currah

Published by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford.

Andrew Currah deserves to be commended for providing an insight into the rapidly-evolving world of online journalism.  He fears the clickstream of consumption for news and information will be used increasingly to shape the content of websites to the detriment of editorial values and the wider public interest.  In the multi-media hubs of newspapers which are investing heavily in digital output, the most popular stories are indicated on visual display screens.  Real-time feedback is already beginning to determine the allocation of news room resources. 


Max Clifford has been trying his hardest to re-invent himself by becoming a father figure for the terminally-ill reality television star Jade Goody but while he might be hoping to salve his conscience he cannot undo all the damage he has inflicted over the years by helping to legitimise cheque-book journalism.

Not only has he stoked up the public's appetite for the seedier side of paid-for journalism - through what he calls "a way of life" - but he has also encouraged and sustained the often pitiful ingenuity of those who seek to exploit it.

By advising his clients on how to make "a financial killing" from newspapers and television for stories such as kiss-and-tells, Clifford has inspired and empowered countless other individuals who have the imagination and cunning to take advantage of the un-controlled competitive forces which are currently at play within the news and entertainment media. 



Self-regulation “rules ok” was the general consensus when internet industry experts were invited by the Westminster Media Forum (11.2.2009) to consider whether online content regulation was the only practical solution to the task of “taming the wild web”. Media companies and internet service providers argued that the “huge reduction in child abuse images on UK sites” demonstrated the effectiveness of a co-operative approach between industry, government and consumers.

In a lecture to students at Brunel University (27.1.2009) Nicholas Jones set out the challenges which journalists will face as newspaper groups expand their audio-visual online output and compete head on with established broadcasters.  Newspapers like the Sun and the News of the World are showing how the Murdoch press is joining up the dots.  News International’s purchasing power for exclusive video material – and the skill of its journalists in manufacturing news – can dictate the running order of newsrooms across the multi-media environment.  Newspaper groups are determined to maintain their influence in a digital age and are demonstrating how they can command the agenda not just in the press but in television and radio and online journalism as well.


British media proprietors and regulators seem confident they have made sure that the UK’s development of online television will remain out of reach of interference by the European Union.

Internet services which are considered to be "television-like" could face control under the terms of the European audio-visual directive which takes effect as from January 2009. But the British newspaper owners – backed by the Press Complaints Commission and Ofcom – believe that the rapidly expanding audio-visual output of their websites will escape European control.

Nicholas Jones explained in a speech to the Hansard Society (27.11.2008) why the growing migration to the web will change the British political landscape come the next general election.


When I was invited a couple of months ago to give my thoughts on the Changing Political Landscape who would have thought that I would be talking to you in a week when the Westminster waters parted and we saw opening up the clearest political dividing lines for a decade or more between Labour and the Conservatives. Let battle commence seemed to be the cry of both Alistair Darling and George Osborne. We are firmly on the countdown to a general election which will eventually offer a clear choice between spending our way out of the recession with higher public debt or by curbing state expenditure in order to limit the size of that looming tax bombshell.

Nicholas Jones spoke at a rally at the House of Commons (17.11.2008) in support of the drive by the Plain English Campaign to win wider support for the Small Print Bill. The aim is to help vulnerable people who miss out on compensation because of confusing small print. One of the aims is to ensure a minimum size for the print used in guarantees, contracts etc. Jones described the “love hate” relationship between journalists and those campaigning for plain speaking and writing.

When Shami Chakrabarti appeared on stage wearing a red poppy to accept her award as 2008 communicator of the year, she triggered flashbacks which trouble me every year. Why was a civil rights campaigner the only winner at the annual PR Week awards dinner (Grosvenor House, 21.10.2008) to wear a poppy? What was the director of Liberty trying to say two and a half weeks before Remembrance Sunday?


Those who argue for an unregulated free-for-all on the internet are in danger of becoming the cheer leaders for Rupert Murdoch, the Conservative Party and host of other multi-national businesses whose sole interest is to exploit the commercial potential of the web.

Newspaper websites are now moving big time into internet television and the ability of media proprietors to buy up exclusive audio-visual material is already enticing viewers away from mainstream broadcasters and undermining their viability.