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Better than North Korean propaganda?

“The North Korean’s couldn’t come up with better propaganda than the Murdoch’s.”

Nicholas Jones, famous for his previous political reporting at the BBC, described one of the Sun’s many iconic front pages. May 5th 2005 sees Tony Blair and Gordon Brown spliced in to two Manchester United football tops featuring the headline “Come on you Reds!”

When looking at how loyal Murdoch’s signature paper was to the Labour party during Blair’s run as Prime Minister, its tough to imagine that this is the same paper David Cameron occasionally wrote for and stands by to this day, despite the incredulous fall from grace the Murdoch family is currently undergoing.

It illustrates the point that Jones made earlier in today’s Coventry Conversation; for years the Prime Minister was so fearful of Rupert Murdoch and his army of media that they would dance to whatever music the fallen media baron played.

This is the effect that Andy Coulson had, or even has on the current Prime Minister. His link with Rupert Murdoch helped secure British public support of the Conservative party leader. The effect the ‘Red Tops’ have had on the country is undeniable; their persistent campaigns have changed laws – the campaign for ridding the country of plastic bags was a success within 3 days; they topple high-level officials – the Baby P debacle cost the jobs of at least five Haringey Council Staff; and they win and lose elections for Prime Ministers – Neil Kinnock never did get a chance to turn out the lights.

The former BBC political correspondent explained that when New Labour was being formed “Blair was desperate to get Murdoch on his side… Cameron was as desperate to get Murdoch on his side as Tony Blair was many years earlier.”

It has been argued that Rupert Murdoch’s support can make or break a Prime Minister, but some believe his media organisations have simply aligned themselves with the right people at the right time to ensure his business ventures are secure. Either way Murdoch and whoever he pledged allegiance to have always been very happy people, that is, until Prince William and Prince Harry discovered their phones had been hacked.

The Guardian persisted with this story, or as some may call it – a campaign, until it was revealed that the young schoolgirl Milly Dowler had her phone hacked while she was reported missing. This information caused public outrage and Murdoch’s Empire now finds itself in the spiralling scandal his papers were once famous for unveiling.

Nicholas Jones speaks in a series discussing Phone Hacking

“The Murdoch’s are finished… if anyone can prove Cameron knew about Hackgate, it will finish him as well.”

Nicholas Jones is no lightweight, he was political correspondent for the BBC for 30 years, examining and picking apart the art of the spin-doctor. He still writes on his website and released a book last year titled Campaign 2010 – The Making of a Prime Minister. This was later followed by a publication in March this year – The Lost Tribe of Fleet Street.

When asked if he has ever used such underhand methods to exploit a story Jones was frank, “At the start of my career I used to peek through people’s back windows for a story… but phone hacking… Even if I though it was in the public interest, I hope… I hope I wouldn’t go fishing.” One thing he was certain about however “Phone hacking has changed journalism forever.”

You can view Nicholas Jones’ current work online at www.nicholasjones.org.uk and catch up on the latest and future Coventry Conversations at http://wwwm.coventry.ac.uk/cuevents/Pages/CoventryConversations.aspx

Nicholas Jones spoke to Huw Hopkins outside Coventry University

Photos by Simon – check out his blog

Image copyright and courtesy of The Sun, News Group Newspapers

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Trevor's attempt at a banana carving

We had a three hour lecture.

The first fifteen minutes we were told “go find a news story”, we had two and a half hours and they had to be uploaded in the final 15 minutes.

I was scanning over my email when they were telling us the point of today’s lecture and noticed this and decided to follow up the story with a local spin.

I went over to the Coventry Market and introduced myself to one of the fruit stall owners. I decided to write the piece in the style of the Sun. Here is my finished story.

British public “too busy” to carve bananas

Fruit stall owners were ‘monkeying’ around yesterday, trying the latest internet sensation – banana carving, but some don’t believe the trend will take off.

The carvings, made famous by Japanese artist Keisuke Yamada, won’t continue its rise in popularity because “the people here are too stressed, too busy” says Hussain, a Coventry fruit salesman.

He was too busy to try carving one himself, but he kindly donated one for a customer to try.

Trevor, 36 attempted to re-create Yamada’s famous ‘beach-bum banana’ and noted that “it’s very creative”.

 “I’m not very artistic. If I could sit at home trying, it might be better”.

 If only he had time.

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