Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
A gripping account of what it felt like to be editor when the Daily Telegraph broke the scandal of MPs’ expenses had even hardened reporters sitting on the edge of their chairs at the annual lunch of the Journalists’ Charity at Simpson’s in The Strand (2.3.2010).William Lewis, now editor in chief of Telegraph Media Group, said that initially he feared the story was a hoax and he was not completely convinced until the Justice Secretary Jack Straw finally confirmed that the purloined disc, which contained details of all the claims, was genuine.

Online participation in this year’s general election is certain to set a new bench mark for the web’s influence on political debate but the British blogosphere will be hard pressed to match the impact achieved in the campaigning for and against President Obama.

Despite denying repeatedly that he played a ‘sexing up game’ when working on the government’s much-criticised dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Alastair Campbell acknowledged in his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry (12.1.2010) that his role had been unprecedented.

Unlike the USA, where the press is in dire straits, British national newspapers are hoping to reinvent themselves on line and derive a new income stream from their websites. Despite the odds being stacked against them, the press proprietors are determined to try to get readers into the habit of paying to view online. But this can only be achieved by forcing the BBC to curb the expansion of its online output.  Downsizing the BBC would create the space in which to develop potentially profitable pay-for-view sites – an option almost certain to be favoured by an incoming Conservative government. By buying up exclusive and often sensational videos the newspapers are already showing that they can beat the established broadcasters at their own game. Digital convergence will give the press to ability to join up the dots…to command the agenda not just in print and online but in radio and television as well.  

Journalists are addicted to the blame game. The priority is to work out who is to blame and who should say “sorry”.  Personality-led stories attempting to hold public figures to account are the easiest to write. But journalists should be on their guard: political spin doctors and the public relations industry are showing ever greater sophistication in managing the personalisation of news and turning the “S” word to their clients’ advantage.  In a speech to the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics (Coventry University, 28.10.2009) , Nicholas Jones explored the ethics of saying “sorry” and the part of apologies play in the   hyper-personalisation of political coverage.