Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

 

Journalism at Your Service? 

International Journalism Festival, Perugia, 1.4.2009 

 

Two questions should trouble the journalists of Britain, Europe and America as we work through what will be a terrible year for the world economy. Why, during the boom years, didn’t we do more to investigate what was really happening in the financial markets?  And are journalists in danger now of being deflected from the task of holding our governments, banks and institutions to account? Journalists can play their part in serving the public interest by investigating what went wrong, by scrutinising what the politicians are saying, and by helping to ensure that rigorous controls are introduced to prevent the damaging financial speculation of the past.  

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. 

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 game...my 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. 

 

 

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.

It was modestly put but heartfelt nonetheless: bloggers believe that crap journalists are finally feeling the heat.

When a trio of celebrated bloggers were brought together by the Adam Smith Institute (16.4.2008) they were united in their belief that the collective strength of the new media was helping to start to improve the accuracy and quality of the main stream providers of news and information.

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