Nicholas Jones

How the internet reduces journalists' chances to hold politicians to account

The 2015 general election presented an unexpected challenge for former BBC political correspondent and author Nicholas Jones. For his fifth general election book he had been commissioned to write The election A-Z, and although no longer reporting directly from the frontline, he was able to use his knowledge of the political beat to examine and assess the campaign on a thematic basis. Having to select a subject for each letter of the alphabet allowed him to explore topical election issues and techniques while at the same time reflecting on the changes he had witnessed during forty years on the campaign trail following party leaders and MPs. Jones was anxious to address the exceptional circumstances surrounding the 2015 election: the novelty of a peacetime coalition government; the introduction of fixed term parliaments; the unprecedented reliance on opinion polls; and the growing impact of social media. Online campaigning opened up new ways to influence voters, but Jones concluded that electioneering via the internet also led to a reduction in the opportunities for journalists to hold politicians to account

Keywords: politics, media, elections, online campaigning

Note on the contributor

Nicholas Jones was a BBC industrial and political correspondent for 30 years. He has written extensively on the relationship between politicians and the media, He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wolverhampton in 2005, and appointed an honorary visiting professor at the Cardiff School of Journalism in 2011. His latest book, The election A-Z, published in July 2015, is his fifth about a general election. Previous books include Election 92, Campaign 1997, Campaign 2001, and Campaign 2010: The making of the Prime Minister.