Owen Jones – The Matrix Database

Owen Jones interviewing Labour politician John McDonnell, who he once worked for as a researcher. Isn’t this part of Jones’ Establishment and the conflict of interests it represents?

The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. Are factors such as an elite education, establishment connections, personal wealth and interests in rival fields compatible with journalistic integrity? 

This page looks at Guardian journalist Owen Jones. For more information on the database click here.


Learn about the significance of a private/Oxbridge education here

Owen Jones was educated at state comprehensives then attended Oxford University (source)

Revolving Door

Learn about the significance of the Revolving Door here

Owen Jones worked as a parliamentary researcher for Labour MP John McDonnell and assisted him during a leadership campaign (source)

“Establishment” Connections

Learn about the significance of Establishment Connections here




Owen Jones worked for leading Labour figure John McDonnell as a researcher (source)

Archie Bland, a journalist for the Independent, admitted to discomfort on reviewing one of Jones’ books: “I know (Jones) slightly from his days working on this paper, and through friends of mine who he knew at Oxford, and I like him; now I’m reviewing his book. Even if no-one’s doing anything untoward on purpose, this is all a bit old-boys-network, isn’t it?

Ironically, the book in question was The Establishment, raising the question, for Bland, of whether “Jones himself, a prominent, well-connected figure who knows powerful people on first-name terms, counts as part of the Establishment, or an establishment, anyway.” (source)

Media Lens postulate that the “establishment” Owen Jones belongs to is “part of an Oxbridge, Guardian/Observer/Independent/New Statesman/BBC niche on the ‘liberal-left’ of the Establishment

Salary/Indications of Wealth

Learn about the significance of journalists with an unusual level of wealth here

Owen Jones’ salary and earnings cannot be confirmed, however as a high-profile Guardian colunmist with two prominent books (Chavs and The Establishment) it is likely that his yearly income is in six-figures

As a point of reference, the Office for National Statistics list the average UK salary for 2021 as £26,193

Complaints / apologies / controversies

Learn about the significance of complaints/apologies here

Owen Jones has no notable upheld complaints or apologies


In a democracy, the media is supposed to challenge government: closeness between key media and political players is clearly therefore something that needs to be scrutinized


I enjoyed much of my time at Oxford but, like many people from comps, it was a real culture shock. The place reeks of a public school ethos: not just the fact it is stuffed with such an unnaturally high number of privileged youngsters, but because of all the trappings – like having to attend exams in silly costumes…I’ll be honest: I met plenty of thick people at Oxford, who were simply more articulate or had more knowledge than others (but without being able to apply it creatively) simply because they had benefited from tens of thousands of pounds of resources thrown at them all their lives.



Ironically, given his determination to raise awareness of the Establishment, Owen Jones is himself a powerful, well-connected figure on the liberal left. He attended Oxford University, cementing links to a journalist who admitted an “old boys network” feeling when reviewing Jones’ book, and worked for a high-profile Labour politician he subsequently had to comment on as a journalist.

Impartial? Independent? Holding the powerful to account?

Learn more about the Matrix Project here.

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