Journalism Matters: Industry Calls On Government To Recognise The Value Of Journalism

Through the News Media Assocation’s Journalism Matters campaign, the news media industry has united to issue a unified message to Government about the vital role journalism plays in our society, and the increased importance of this during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The industry is calling for the Government to ensure a bright future for independent journalism in this country by taking decisive action to level the playing field with the tech giants and initiating target support packages to help the industry, particualrly the local sector. 

Journalism Matters kicked off with a message of support to NMA members from The Queen in which she highlighted the vital role played by newspapers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Queen said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated what an important public service the established news media provides, both nationally and regionally.

“As our world has changed dramatically, having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital.”

The message was covered by all NMA member national titles including The Sun, Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, and The Times and by many local titles.

In an article, NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker highlighted the numerous campaigning initiatives undertaken by news media to support the public during the pandemic. But he warned: “We now urgently need Government to intervene with a series of targeted initiatives to help sustain local independent journalism in this country.

“And the relationship between the news media and the tech giants needs to be properly reset. For too long, Google and Facebook have had a free pass at using our journalism on their platforms, making huge profits, whilst contributing comparatively nothing back into the industry.

“This problem must be tackled urgently in order for journalism to have a bright future.”  

 National, regional, and local news brands all over the country took part promoting the campaign in both print and online in a variety of ways.

Op eds were published in local and national newspapers by the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, the Minister of State for Media and Data John Whittingdale, and the Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens, all voicing their support for the campaign and heralding the vital role journalism has played during the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign saw the launch of new research from Newsworks World Without News, in partnership with the NMA and Society of Editors, which was widely covered in national and local titles. 

Daily Mail

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson threw his weight behind the campaign, taking to Twitter to urge the public to support the campaign. 

survey of local editors conducted by the NMA found that local editors overwhelmingly believe that Government should intervene to make Google and Facebook pay for news. 

Yesterday, Hereford Times editor John Wilson published a succinct rebuttal of criticism often levelled at local media titles headlined ’10 jibes aimed at the Hereford Times… and how I answer them‘ which was widely shared and praised on social media. 

Reach Plc’s local and regional news brands featured articles on how they made a difference to their communities in 2019. The Leicester Mercury is marking Journalism Matters week with a series of special reports on Leicestershire Live and in the Leicester Mercury.

They encouraged readers to share their experiences of 100 days in lockdown so that, “they can ensure our coverage truly reflects how you, the people of Leicester and Leicestershire, have been affected by the pandemic.”

Writing in the i for Journalism Matters, editor Oly Duff said: “It is not hard for anyone to find examples of rigorous journalism that has improved their own life. Every community that loses its media loses influence over its future.

“People who buy newspapers or who subscribe to digital media, who pay for journalism, already know this. After years of hyperbole, this is a battle for survival and – if objective truth is to have any meaning – for a first draft of history that bears some resemblance to events.”


Through the week, Behind Local News has been highlighting brilliant public interest reporting in the local media sector by publishing five of the Public Interest News List nominations every day, ahead of publishing the full list on Sunday, the last day of Journalism Matters week. 

Speaking ahead of Journalism Matters Week, Birmingham Mail editor Graeme Brown said: “Our journalists have now spent more than half of the last 12 months away from our newsroom – but I am proud to say they have never stepped away from their communities.

“Looking back over the past 12 months, from fundraising to being a good critical friend, we’ve worked alongside people locally to try and help make Birmingham and the wider West Midlands a better place for those who live alongside us.

“And then there’s coronavirus. Our team has risen to the challenge of reporting some of the biggest challenges any of us will ever see – often under difficult circumstances.

“It has been a shock to the system for us, just like the communities we serve, but we’ve held people to account locally and nationally and called for better, while reflecting the enormous debt of gratitude we have to those who just never stopped working.”

Why vital

The Oban Times also published a feature promoting Journalism Matters, commenting: “Newspapers like The Oban Times bring a sense of cohesion to communities large and small, guiding them through this troubled and confusing era, a reassuring presence that local life still goes on in all its forms, for good or bad.”

The NCTJ supported the campaign by highlighting the stories that Community News Project reporters have worked on which mattered most to them and to their readers through the week. 

The Express and Star published a piece on looking back at their role in recording the coronavirus and published quotes from local MPs including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in support of local journalism. 

Mr Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire, said: “Newspapers, particularly local newspapers, are often the key voice in communities. They can often be the instrument to make things happen and direct change. That is so incredibly important, particularly in an era when news can spread so quickly, but when it is not always accurate.

“In such circumstances high-quality local journalism has become even more vital. Newspapers have always changed events, both in local government and national government, and that’s why it is so important to have newspapers such as the Express and Star.

“If you look at the times we are in currently, dealing with the pandemic, knowing that the Express and Star is here which can report fairly, accurately and truthfully, so people know what is going on and how they need to respond, has become even more important.”

The Society of Editors has been participating in the campaign by running a series of articles on its website including quotes from members in national, regional, local and broadcast journalism about what journalism means to them and why it matters. 

Society of Editors president Alison Gow said: “The media has consistently risen to this challenge, exposing errors, seeking to explain complex issues in fast-changing environments, celebrating those who risk their health to care for others, and also – let’s not forget the importance of this – bringing people the kind of news and entertainment that adds a bit of colour to life. 

“Journalism matters all the time but in 2020 it feels as though it has never mattered more”

Jamie Macaskill, digital editor of Hull Live, wrote a piece on the importance of trusted, local journalism. He said: “Our reporting isn’t an algorithm, it isn’t manufactured inside some computer code in an attempt to please all of our readers all of the time. Some coverage you may find unappealing. But we trust that what you find interesting, engaging or informative outweighs those stories you disagree with.

“We pride ourselves on trust. Our staff are trained journalists, regulated by the industry watchdog IPSO, and every article is vetted and checked by experienced content editors prior to publication.

“Our journalists also live locally, send their kids to local schools, eat and drink in local cafes, bars and restaurants, shop locally and support local causes. At our heart the Hull Daily Mail and Hull Live remain embedded in our communities… We are proud to be the first point of call for news, sport and information in Hull and the East Riding. We hope you agree that Journalism Matters.”

Daily Mirror

To mark the campaign, The Sunday Post published a piece by Scottish Newspaper Society director John McLellan in which he encouraged readers to call out to their local MPs and MSPs to ask what they are doing to help preserve local journalism.

James Preston, print and digital editor at Maidenhead Advertiser, said: “This week is Journalism Matters Week, a time for everyone in our industry to celebrate the best of what we do. It feels more important to do this than ever before.

“The work done by the team at the Advertiser constantly fills me with admiration. Even before the pandemic hit we were all working in a high pressure environment, but the team’s professionalism and commitment to the job has never wavered.

He added: “Across the industry, demand for local news is growing, and newspapers are looking at new ways to make money so they can continue to provide an essential service. Many are looking at subscription or pay-as-you-read models, such as our own Axate payment system.

“Some readers may object, but there is a growing argument that publishers cannot continue to give away news that costs time and money to produce if they are to remain sustainable.

“A belief that the world needs local newspapers – which I know many of you share – will help us ensure the world will have local newspapers in the future.”

The Bromsgrove Standard also shared an article on the importance of Journalism Matters, sharing quotes from managing director, Chris Bullivant Jnr and local editors across their titles, championing local journalism in its role in informing, enlightening and entertaining readers.

To mark #TrustedNewsDay, many have opened up their newsrooms to show the challenges of reporting, especially during the pandemic and to show how trusted journalism is produced.

The Leader launched a live #TrustedNewsDay blog to give readers and audiences a chance to see how their news rooms operates. They encourage readers to ask them any questions about how the Leader is run and what they do each day to bring them their local news.

The Salisbury Journal marks the day by sharing a list of their best stories over the last few months.

Salisbury Journal

The Shropshire Star launched a live page dedicated to showing readers the process of how their local newspaper is brought to life, from how they research and find stories to working on the graphics for their next editions.

Swindon Advertiser

The Advertising Association came out in support of the campaign. AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “The Queen’s message for 2020 Journalism Matters Week is a timely reminder of just how important quality independent journalism is, particularly during times of crisis.

“We know advertising is a vital revenue stream for local, regional and national journalism, helping our news media to continue its work providing essential public health information. We encourage all in our industry to continue their support for news media, where they can, as we all work together to get through this challenging period.”

The Guardian Foundation tweeted on #TrustedNewsDay to show how they are making journalism more “accessible, diverse and inclusive” by developing young people’s news literacy skills, creating opportunities to pursue news as a career, and preserving the history of the Guardian and Observer through the Guardian’s archive.