Fourth Estate, public interest & standards in public life

Notes to accompany Exeter Observer community journalism courses and news writing seminars.

Fourth Estate & public interest

Three mediaeval political classes with representation in parliament:

plus “mob or public press”, with unofficial but significant influence on public affairs

Term first used when press reporting began in House of Commons (1787):

“[Edmund] Burke said there were three estates in Parliament; but, in the reporters’ gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all”, Thomas Carlyle, 1840

Same year US constitution created with three branches of government:

plus fourth influencing/supporting/opposing other three

inc. press + pressure/campaign/community groups etc.

so explicitly emphasises independence, complexity & public interest role

Standards in public life

Nolan Principles (1995) ethical standards expected of public office holders:

inc. elected/appointed, local/national, government/police/courts/public bodies, health/education/social/care services

From Heather Brooke to Edward Snowden:

Since 2016 EU referendum:

2019 General election campaign:

cf.

vs. declining democracy/transparency/trust/engagement and increasing populism:

Press standards:

Recent stories
Great Western Hotel beside Exeter St David's railway station

Analysis  ⁄  Community & society

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

Exeter City Council has yet to confirm whether it will use any of the £2.15m Rough Sleeping Initiative funding it has received since 2018 to keep housing rough sleepers when government emergency accommodation funding runs out.

Read more ...

Exeter City Futures Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter City Council accepts climate emergency plan to make city carbon neutral by 2030

Chief Executive warns that resourcing the plan is "problematic" given COVID-19 financial challenges and that lack of resources limits the council's capacity for immediate practical action.

Read more ...

Cyclists, pedestrians and cars compete for space on Union Road, Exeter, 1 June 2020

News  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Devon County Council fails to deliver promised COVID-19 cycling and walking infrastructure

Deadline for action on social distancing for safe travel set by county cabinet member passes despite Devon receiving £1.7 million share of government emergency fund.

Read more ...

Department for Transport New Road Layout for Social Distancing coronavirus road sign

Analysis  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Coronavirus exposes council failure to deliver Exeter transport plans

Devon County Council's failure to deliver overdue Exeter transport strategy and cycling and walking plan has led to an inadequate response to government demands for emergency coronavirus road layout changes.

Read more ...

Exeter Cathedral and Quay car park top deck

News  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

Exeter City Council spending plans will be revisited in June at same time as Net Zero Exeter carbon reduction plan is discussed by Executive.

Read more ...