Culture Secretary: ‘Vital’ That Content Creators Are Fairly Rewarded

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has said that creators of quality content are not sufficiently recognised in the digital environment and it is “vital” that this is “turned around” so news media publishers are appropriately rewarded for their investment in news.

Speaking at the Society of Editors conference, Mr Wright said: “It is undeniable that the digital revolution has led to a world in which the value of quality content is not sufficiently rewarded.

“This means an understandable but harmful trend towards cheaper to produce content, which endangers the investigative journalism that needs time and resources to do well.

“There is an urgent need to turn this around. On the one hand, I firmly believe that technology is a force for good and that social media platforms have brought great opportunities.

“But many of these platforms are powered by the sharing of news, and it is vital that the producers of this news are recognised and rewarded.”

The Culture Secretary said he had asked Dame Frances to “look carefully at this point” and said he was “confident” that the review will show there are ways for quality journalism to “go from strength to strength” in the digital era.

Mr Wright said the UK press enjoyed a level of trust and freedom “that is rightly envied and respected across the world” but that he recognised there was “a real problem” in converting large audiences into revenue which threatened the media.

He added: “Across the world, we are seeing journalists under threat and state sponsored disinformation drowning out the free and open press.

“And the risks of a diminished press are very real. A less informed public, a democratic deficit and less of a spotlight on vital public institutions. Institutions like the courts.

“In my previous role as Attorney General, I was always impressed by the diligence of the journalists who informed the public about complex and challenging cases.

“And the careful way in which they, most of the time, combined accurate reporting with respect for the law so everyone is able to get the fair trial they deserve. It is a good example of the importance of a healthy and sustainable free press.

“A press that gives people not just what they want to read but what they ought to read, makes our society is stronger. And helping you to deliver that is one of my big priorities in my new role as Secretary of State at DCMS.”

Mr Wright reserved special praise for investigative journalism saying that it had the power to shape the public agenda and fight against misinformation.

He continued: “High quality investigative journalism holds our institutions to account and makes our country, and public life, a much better place. And it’s the kind of journalism that can and must be part of the antidote to so called ‘fake news’.

“So, at a time when trust is in short supply, our media is as important as it has ever been. The fight against disinformation and the sustainability of our press are two sides of the same coin.

“You help guarantee a society with rigour and accuracy at its core. And you do excellent work. We might not always like what you write about us. But your right to report and publish freely is critically important for us all.”