Nick Jones

Iain Dale is to be congratulated for highlighting the woeful failure of the left of centre in British politics to exploit the blogosphere. Of the top twenty political blogs featured in the Guide to Political Blogging 2007-8 , fourteen are from the right of centre and only two from the left.

Of even greater concern is the absence of any defining figures on the mainstream left to bridge the gap between "blogging and the traditional media".

Dale’s guide ranks the top 500 political blogs and as he observes with some justification, the "right of centre blogosphere" is in "a rude state of health" with not a single left wing blog having a mass readership anything like the size of the top seven or eight on the right.

The Ethical Journalist,

By Tony Harcup.

Sage Publications, £18.00.

Review by Nicholas Jones

After all the anguished soul searching of the summer months over the alleged faking of television and radio programmes, the obvious title for Tony Harcup’s next book must surely be The Ethical Broadcaster. With commendable clarity he has pulled together an invaluable compendium of the numerous ethical dilemmas which every journalist will probably face at some point in their careers, a timely reminder, if one was needed, that public trust in the news media is hard won and easily lost.

While the argument over the need for an enforceable code of conduct will continue to ebb and flow, journalists cannot ignore the fact that our behaviour and ethics are under greater scrutiny than ever before, not least because of the continuing explosion in ways of communicating and accessing information.

Our integrity is on the line as never before and while I agree with the likes of Kelvin MacKenzie that journalism cannot claim to be a profession, he must not be allowed to get away unchallenged with his most recent definition of our trade: "It is a knack, a skill or a talent - like plumbing". (Sun 2.8.2007)

By Dominic Wring, Palgrave Macmillan, £16.99 

Having been rightly chided so often in the past by Dominic Wring for allowing myself to become mesmerised by the supposed novelty of New Labour’s manipulation of the media, I can say without hesitation that he has set the record straight. One of his aims in The Politics of Marketing the Labour Party was to place Blairites like Peter Mandelson, Philip Gould and Alastair Campbell in their true historical context and Wring has unquestionably achieved that objective while delivering at the same time a fascinating insight into earlier attempts to promote the party.

I was always conscious of the fact that my own books lacked a proper sense of perspective. My starting point was the rapid expansion of news outlets which was well underway by the early 1980s and which provided seemingly unlimited opportunities for a new generation of aggressive and ruthless media manipulators hired by both Conservatives and Labour.

By Martin Moore, Palgrave Macmillan, £20

What shines through Martin Moore’s history of the early relationship between British governments and the news media is the idealism of the post-war Labour administration and its pioneering work in promoting what Clem Attlee always hoped would be the people’s “conscious and active participation in public affairs”.

In their drive to ensure that the creation of the welfare state and the nationalised industries became a partnership shared between people, Parliament and government, Attlee and his cabinet colleagues laid the foundations for the communication strategies which are now regarded as an every-day tool of any self-respecting democracy.