Soundbites and Spin Doctors Author Nicholas Jones Published by Cassell 1995 (hardback) ISBN 0-304-34542-3 Indigo (paperback) 1996 ISBN 0-575-40052-8
In Soundbites and Spin Doctors BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones draws on his extensive personal experience to analyse how politicians use the media and vice versa. What motivates each side and which has more to gain and to lose?
The relationship between British politicians and the news media is ambivalent. Politicians are quick to complain about media distortion and intrusion, and as quick to offer themselves to media exposure when it is in their interests to do so. And the media affect indignation at any suggestion of "setting up" politicians while continually trying to lure politicians into the careless phrase or indiscretion which will trigger a news story.
The staple elements of reporting have become the soundbite - the short, pithy statement encapsulating a political position or reaction - and the photo-opportunity, the photographic session contrived to make a statement: John Selwyn Gummer feeding a British-beef hamburger to his daughter, David Mellor posing with his family as a sex scandal reverberates around him.
Controversial and funny, Soundbites and Spin Doctors brings an insider's authority to a constantly fascinating subject. Paperback edition fully updated to include media coverage of the 1995 Conservative leadership election and publication of the Scott report.
"Nicholas Jones will have made himself unpopular with Soundbites and Spin Doctors because this bold, truth-telling book discusses practices that not only politicians but also news organisations would prefer to keep discreetly veiled...He hopes that the readers of his 'investigation of the often private interplay between journalists, politicians and their advisers will obtain an insight into the hidden world of media manipulation'. This hope is amply justified." Michael Davie, Times Literary Supplement.
"A report from the battle-front, a highly readable account of life at the Westminster sharp end'. Ivor Gaber, Times Higher Education Supplement.
"An essential primer for all who want to understand the strange no man's land between politicians and journalists." Anthony Howard, Sunday Times.