Malcolm Dean, The Guardian newspaper’s longstanding chief monitor of social affairs, expertly indicts his own trade through a series of seven case studies on the influence of media on social policy. Drawing on four decades of top-level Whitehall briefings, topped up by interviews with 150 policy-makers, the book is packed with insights, and colourful stories from events in Whitehall's corridors, culminating in a damning list detailing the seven deadly sins of the 'reptiles' (modern journalists). A new final chapter reports on the News International hacking scandal, and the subsequent Leveson Inquiry, prompting criminal and civil lawsuits and leading to a radical press regulator plan.
Written in an engaging way, it offers a unique insider’s perspective and a detailed and valuable account of what goes on in news rooms, pressure groups, departmental policy divisions and Parliament.
Malcolm Dean joined The Guardian newspaper in 1969 where he served as roving reporter, social affairs leader-writer and assistant editor. He became Special Adviser to the Health and Social Services Secretary in 1978/79. Returning to the paper in 1979 post election, he launched its Society section, a highly successful weekly supplement specialising in social policy, which he edited for most of its first 20 years as well as writing daily editorials. He retired in 2006 to take up a fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he is still an associate. He has served on numerous social policy working parties and was chair of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation commission on older people.
Foreword by Howard Glennerster; Foreword by David R. Mayhew; Preface: 1. The rise and fall of mainstream journalism; 2. An inside and outside look at policy-making; 3. Law and order; 4. Drugs: tabloid puppets and pawns; 5. Asylum: an oppressive media campaign prompts a cowardly political response; 6. Labour's boldest target: to end child poverty; 7. Vocational education: the biggest disappointment; 8. Health and social care: the most expensive breakfast in history; 9. The disappearance of the housing correspondent; 10. Subverting democracy (1): seven sins of the reptiles; 11. Subverting democracy (2): serious crimes of the reptiles; Afterword; Index
"A book of considerable learning and importance, written with charm and clarity...that deserves to become a core text for students and should be read by all serious journalists." Peter Oborne, British Journalism Review
"Virtually a social history of modern Britain, … [written from] a fantastic vantage point … with a lightness of touch. " Times Higher Education
"One of the break-throughs of Malcolm Dean's book is the way it documents the fact that the media are more than just messengers. What it unearths is the degree to which ministers' attitudes and mindsets are influenced by the media in such crucial fields as law and order, drug reform and asylum. They are major players." Howard Glennerster, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Politics.
"As one would expect from an ex-journalist of a quality newspaper, the book is well written in a very accessible style. In particular, there is none of the jargon that is a feature of so many academic books on the media and politics." Raymond Kuhn, Journal of Social Policy
"a compelling analysis of the complexities and, at times, cynicism of how policy has been shaped in modern Britain" Brian Murphy, Irish Examiner July 2013
“a remarkably detailed book…an intricate and subtle study” Julian Petley, Fifth Estate Online
"Malcolm Dean had a media seat in the stalls of social policy through four tumultuous decades. He's been there, seen it - and knows it better than anyone. A vital subject: a definitive book." Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian
"Malcolm Dean's fascinating book explores an under-discussed dimension of politics -- how policy and political decisions are shaped by the popular media. Many of his examples should cause us great concern." Baroness Shirley Williams
"Malcolm Dean has been uniquely well-placed to witness innumerable policy successes and failures, and the often distorted lens through which they have been covered by the media. This thoughtful and wise book will be invaluable for anyone working in the media who's involved in explaining social policy, and to anyone involved in social policy who needs to get the media on their side." Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of NESTA and former Director of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit and the Cabinet Office's Strategy Unit in Tony Blair's Government