Culture Secretary vows to “protect journalists” at Media Freedom Awards

Posted on: November 9, 2022 by Claire Meadows

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has vowed to “protect journalists” with upcoming legislation to tackle the dominance of technology platforms.

Speaking at the Society of Editors’ Media Freedom Awards on Wednesday 9 November, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan MP, confirmed that the government would be pushing forward with legislation to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act as well as adding substantial protections for journalists in the Online Safety Bill.

Donelan, MP for Chippenham since 2015, joined more than 200 journalists and editors from all sectors of the UK media industry for a celebration of public interest journalism.  

Speaking ahead of presenting the evening’s Media Freedom Award to PA Media for its commitment to maintaining open justice on behalf of the wider news industry, Donelan paid tribute to those in attendance and their vital role in holding power to account.

She said: “We all know how important journalism is to our democracy. 

“The people in this room ask the questions that need asking, and they hold those in power to account. 

“Without a free media, our democracy is worthless.”

Acknowledging that technology had uprooted the media landscape, the Secretary said that the government would be pushing ahead with legislation to protect the UK press.

She added: “I believe very strongly that we need to protect journalists as the world around us changes. 

“That is why we are not just repealing Section 40, but bringing in the first substantial protections for journalistic content online through our Online Safety Bill which will be returning to Parliament in the next few weeks.

“We should remember and celebrate the fact that the UK press is among the most respected and free in the world.”