Journalism Matters Launches With Culture Secretary Call To Back ‘Our World-renowned News Industry’

Journalism Matters, the news media sector’s campaign to highlight the importance of trusted journalism, launched this week with a public call by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries MP to back “our world-renowned news industry” by buying newspapers or going on to news media websites.

Hundreds of national and local newspapers have celebrated the annual campaign coordinated by the News Media Association by celebrating the vital contribution trusted journalism makes to our democratic society.

Journalism Matters launched with an article by the Culture Secretary in which she said: “Journalism matters. That’s the theme of this week’s national campaign to celebrate the role a free press plays in British society, and it’s a powerful statement of fact. But why?

“Our democracy relies on it. Good journalism exposes wrongdoing and injustice, it scrutinises people in power and it champions and celebrates good causes.

“And at the heart of our news industry are local newspapers, powered by the reporters, copy editors, photographers and publishers working 24-7 to bring us trusted local news and information.

“Their papers – like the Bedford Times and Citizen, in my own constituency – are the pillars of their communities. They keep us in the loop with the stories that impact our day-to-day lives – from council or court decisions to the rise and fall of local sports teams.”

In an article, NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker said journalism has a critical role to play in helping to tackle some of the most pressing issues we face currently such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

He said: “As COP26 gets underway, the hugely important issue of climate change is an excellent example of the power of journalism to be a catalyst for progress. News media titles may not always agree on the best way forward to tackling environmental issues.

Huddersfield JM spread

“But healthy disagreement – founded in fact and expert opinion – is the essence of a truly plural media, which we are lucky to have in this country. It is only through robust public debate and scrutiny, that we will find the innovative solutions we need to solve these large and complex issues.

“News media is the perfect forum for this debate to take place and, as such, we have a critical role to play in tackling climate change.”

The week has also seen the launch of new research from Newsworks which revealed that over two thirds of the UK are relying on news brands to inform them about climate change while nearly eight in 10 said that the established media – news brands, radio and TV – was driving awareness of climate change, well ahead of environmental organisations, Government and social media.

On Wednesday, the Government published the findings of its call for evidence on journalists safety which found that a very high proportion of respondents had experienced incidents, particularly “abuse” “intimidation” and “threats of violence” taking place both online and offline at varying frequency.  

Over 1 in 3 female respondents indicated that they do not feel safe operating as a journalist in the UK, the research found.

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith  said: “No-one should have to go to work fearing that they will be abused, assaulted or worse. Journalists are no different. This week, the news media sector celebrates its annual Journalism Matters campaign to highlight the importance of trusted journalism to our society.

“Please join us in celebrating what journalists do, and by condemning those who would seek to silence journalists through abuse, intimidation and physical violence.

“Journalism matters more than ever, and we need to work together to ensure that journalists can continue to perform their vital work on behalf of the public and help answer the challenges that we all face.”

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

Today, press freedom campaigners director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information Maurice Frankel and Rebecca Vincent, director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, have called for an end to state secrecy.

Tomorrow, the winners of the Making a Difference public vote for the best local and national newspaper campaign of the past year will be announced.