Culture Secretary vows to be a “champion of journalism”

Posted on: October 31, 2022 by Claire Meadows

The Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan MP has vowed to be a “champion of journalism” and reiterated the government’s commitment to making sure the “industry thrives in the digital age”.

Writing as part of an op-ed to mark Journalism Matters Week, Donelan said that she recognised that big tech had “contributed to the closure of too many newsrooms” by swallowing up much of the advertising market and that the government remained committed to tackling the dominance of social media platforms through forthcoming legislation.

She said: “While the internet has transformed all of our lives for the better, I know that it has also completely uprooted the business models of local publishers. True, online readership of local media is growing – up 18 percent on last year. But it is clear that big tech has swallowed up much of the ad market and contributed to the closure of too many newsrooms.

“Journalism is just as important in 2022 as it was before the rise of the internet. So this government is committed to doing a number of things to protect it.

“We are going to repeal Section 40, which would threaten media freedom and risk financial ruin for publishers. We have reshaped our world-leading Online Safety Bill to safeguard free speech and ensure Silicon Valley monoliths cannot censor quality journalism on a whim.

“And we are stepping in to stop the biggest tech players from using their market dominance to mistreat other businesses and consumers. Our new regulator, the Digital Markets Unit, will level the playing field between news publishers and big tech – particularly when it comes to getting paid fairly for the news articles they create. After all, good journalism does not come for free.”

The Secretary of State also reiterated the government’s commitment to tackling the safety of journalists through its National Action Plan.

She added: “Being a journalist is just as risky as ever. In fact, thanks to the reach of social media, cases of intimidation, threats – and in rare cases – violence are on the rise.

“While the UK certainly doesn’t face the same challenges as other countries, one incident of abuse is one too many. No one should have to put up with that bile for simply doing their job.

“So I will be pushing ahead with our National Action Plan to ensure that journalists in the UK can operate without fear for their safety. Working alongside industry partners, the police and others, we are committed to reducing the number of attacks and threats against journalists and ensuring those responsible are brought to justice.”

The op-ed can be read in full here.