No Level Playing Field, Says Liverpool Echo Editor

Levelling the playing field between tech platforms and news publishers would help right the imbalance in the digital market, the editor of the Liverpool Echo, Maria Breslin, has said.

Speaking at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee session at Portcullis House, as part of their inquiry into the sustainability of local journalism, Ms. Breslin said: “There isn’t a level playing field with the tech platforms, which has been well documented. There is a lack of transparency, and we would support any Government efforts to address that situation.

“What we want to see is credible trusted news services given some priority on social media. I think we saw during the pandemic that that wasn’t the case. It is too easy on social media for rumour to become facts.”

David Higgerson, chief digital publisher at Reach Plc, gave evidence to the Committee last week, urging for the Digital Markets Unit to put local journalism on an equal footing by allowing news publishers to be fairly rewarded for their investment in news.

Ms. Breslin also highlighted the importance of public interest journalism, saying: “It is still the key to our ethos today, as it was when we first launched.” 

Speaking about the abuse journalists face on social media, Ms. Breslin said: “My main concern about the impact of social media is the effect it’s had on our reporters.

“We’re the first group to appoint an online safety editor. Sadly even this week alone I’ve had to use her services.

“The mental health of journalists, because of the impact of social media, is something I’d like to see the platforms take a lot more seriously.”