Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Any understanding of the power of the British news media – and especially that of the national press – has to take into account the differences between journalism here in the UK and other comparable countries such as the USA or our nearest neighbours in Europe.  In many ways British journalists are a race apart; they’re very tribal; they like to hunt as a pack once the chase has begun; and as our politicians are the first to acknowledge, they take no prisoners.  The politics of Britain are shaped and influenced by the media in ways which other parliaments and legislators find hard to comprehend.  


Where Power Lies, Prime Ministers v the MediaBy Lance Price, Simon and Schuster   Lance Price provides an engaging mea culpa for his days as a Downing Street press officer under Tony Blair but then weakens his own credibility by presenting a demolition job on Gordon Brown’s Premiership based almost entirely on un-attributable quotations from anonymous sources.

What makes the scandal surrounding MPs’ expenses so extraordinary is that it resulted from politicians acting collectively to deceive the public. It was that collective betrayal by elected representatives which explains the depth of public anger. Nicholas Jones was one of the speakers at a debate at the House of Commons organised by the Commonwealth Journalists Association on the question: “What price good governance?” (26.10.2009)

Media scrutiny is the only effective means of forcing politicians to tell the truth. This was the argument put forward by journalists in a debate at the Oxford Union (22.10.2009). The motion was that this house trusts politicians more than journalists. Jones spoke for the journalists.

When searching for news and checking facts reporters often have to bend the rules and possibly break the law. But through its covert mass purchase of confidential mobile phone messages the News of the World has blackened the reputation of British journalism. In a true democracy journalists have to be free to investigate without the constant fear of falling foul of the state or of being hounded by the police and the courts.  Indeed principled journalists are ready to go to jail rather than reveal their sources.  But there is a huge difference between a justified breach of personal privacy in support of investigative journalism and a blatant fishing trip for private and confidential information.