Clifton Urges Industry To ‘Stand Firm’ Against Attacks

Press Association editor-in-chief Pete Clifton has described those who attempt to silence the free press with bile and abuse and “dismiss news they don’t like as fake” as “the real enemies of the people.”

Speaking at the annual St Bride’s service commemorating journalists and media workers killed or imprisoned in the course of their jobs worldwide, Mr Clifton highlighted the growing importance of trusted news and information.

He said: “We should draw comfort from the fact that people are still fascinated by what is happening around them. They might want to consume the news in different ways, but they still want it from organisations they can trust. We face more pressure than ever from those who dismiss news they don’t like as fake.

“So we must re-double our efforts to stand firm, find the truth, champion freedom of speech, challenge authority, serve our audiences, and continue to irritate and undermine those who heap abuse and bile upon us – because they are the real enemies of the people.

He continued: “Those siren voices ignore that trust in the news media is rising, particularly locally, and is far higher than the trust consumers have in news they search for randomly or find on social media.

“I’ll pull out one example, not least because, like us, it is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

“The Manchester Evening News has been serving the city with distinction since October 1868. Its coverage of the Arena terror attack and its aftermath in 2017 showed the role a local publisher can play in reporting with calm sensitivity, then taking a pivotal role in the community coming together to build for the future. And it could do all this because it was trusted.

In his speech, Mr Clifton paid tribute to those who had “who have made the ultimate sacrifice in delivering the news from the world’s most perilous places” and went on to speak about the challenges facing the news media industry.

He said: “Our industry faces the significant challenge of declining print revenues, and digital services undermined by the enormous amount of advertising revenue being sucked away by social media and search engines.

“Great minds are now looking at how this imbalance can be redressed, and no doubt many of us will await with interest the findings of the Cairncross Review into the future of the UK media.”