Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
Campaign managers for the general elections of 2001 and 2005 were forced to take account of the impact which the 24-hour television news channels began to exercise over the daily political agenda, a process of readjustment which looks like speeding up yet again due to the influence of bloggers and the expanding audio-visual output of newspaper websites.

 London, May 1, 2009
Andrew Gilliagn (l) and Jamie SheaA chilling insight into the military mindset -- as explained by Nato’s leading media strategist Jamie Shea -- provided an unexpected but revealing talking point at UNESCO’s annual world press freedom day debate on the international media’s role at times of war. Shea spoke in support of the motion that “governments at war are winning the battle of controlling the international media” – a motion that carried the day by a majority of more than two to one.

Foreign Press Association debateApril 28, 2009The rapid moves by UK newspapers to develop their online output – complete with video and audio as well text and pictures -- is injecting a  new dynamism into British journalism.  Having been a BBC correspondent for thirty years, I find it painful having to admit this, but I have to say that it is newspapers rather than the mainstream television and radio services, which are at the cutting edge in offering exclusive videos and audio tapes, stretching to the limits what journalism should be achieving and more often than not dictating the news agenda into the bargain.  In the short space of a year or two, newspaper websites have become a powerful new platform -- an online showcase for what is arguably some of the best and perhaps what others might consider is some of the worst of British journalism. 

 

April 19, 2009 

When a key Downing Street strategist was exposed as having used a No.10 computer to write a grotesque email smearing senior Conservatives it damaged not only the Prime Minister’s standing but also chipped away still further at the public’s faith in the way Britain is governed.  Although Damian McBride was stupid enough to get caught, he was simply exercising the unbridled freedom which he and his fellow special advisers have been allowed to establish for themselves at an unacceptable cost to the impartiality of the civil service.   Character assassination is now in the dna of Labour Party spin doctors but what made this lurid email so exceptional was that the allegations were entirely unsubstantiated and those targeted included the shadow chancellor’s wife.

Yet again the Labour Party is paying a heavy price for giving free rein to political attack dogs who have the status of civil servants but whose uncontrollable behaviour is undermining the democratic process.  Damian McBride’s crude attempt at smearing both the leader of the Opposition and the shadow chancellor is par for the course in the every day story of the apparatchiks on whom the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues have come to rely. But while Gordon Brown is rightly being blamed for having lost control of his politically-driven spin doctors, David Cameron should also be in the frame.  He too has some questions to answer.