The Need For Journalism Has Never Been Greater, Committee Told

The need for quality, trusted journalism in the UK has never been greater, chief operating officer, News UK, David Dinsmore has said.

Mr Dinsmore was speaking at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee session as part of their inquiry into online harms and disinformation alongside Peter Wright, editor emeritus of DMG Media; Nick Hopkins, executive editor of news at the Guardian; and Alison Phillips, editor of the Daily Mirror.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Dinsmore said: “The need for professional media and journalism has never been greater because there has never been more information out there than now.

“Somebody has to make sense of it. Somebody has to provide the raw material in the first place and there is nobody else, apart from us, doing that job.

“I think the future is bright. It is important we have a vibrant national media, and local media, in this country which will only enhance democracy and trust.”

On combating misinformation online, Mr Dinsmore spoke of the importance of a plural news ecosystem in the UK: “The plurality of our national news brands is something to be cherished; we don’t have group think. That is the wonderful thing about newspapers in the UK.”

Mr Dinsmore also highlighted the critical role news publishers play in helping to debunk fake news. He said: “Most people when they read something on social media, they will then go and check it out in a reputable news source. We still play an important role in the news verification process.

“When we move into the world of deep fakes, which is on us now, and state-sponsored disinformation, it may be that we do need to start showing why we are not running stories – and why they are not true.

“We can’t be the policemen of the internet, but we can be a source of trust.”

Nick Hopkins, executive editor of news at the Guardian, spoke of the dual nature of reporting on the news, and scrutinising it at the same time during the pandemic: “You can do both. You can report the news and interrogate the news. That is what we tried to do.

“We highlighted what we regarded as concerns over VIP lines, chumocracy and scandals around PPE.

“The Guardian has to be mindful of misinformation and to ensure we do not publish incorrect stories. On our coverage of Covid-19 and the environment, we’re a highly trusted news brand and we highly value and cherish that.”

Alison Phillips, editor of the Daily Mirror, also spoke of the value of news during the pandemic. She said: “My role as editor is to ask all the questions people at home are asking. To explain and reassure our readers.

“People want to understand, because if they don’t fully understand a problem, they’re never going to feel a sense of security. You can still provide that information and you can also question a lot of the political decisions that were made.

“We’re not just telling the news, we’re explaining the news.

“We aim to ensure everything we print is true. Mistakes happen. We try to avoid mistakes happening – they will happen in any organisation. In terms of premeditated attempts to mislead people, there is absolutely none of that.

“In terms of trusted voices, we have many. People doing straight news and opinion writers who are our readers trust. You may not – others might not agree with what they say, but our readers trust them. 

“During Covid-19 we saw record numbers of people coming to us for the content we were creating. We saw print sales holding up when you were barely allowed out the front door and that is because people wanted news they could trust and they knew established news organisations in this country were the places they could get it.”