It is essential that journalists receive answers to their questions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Writing in an op-ed published by the News Media Association in recognition of #JournalismMatters week, Sturgeon acknowledged the vital role that the news media had performed in keeping the public informed during the crisis and said that newspapers remained essential to the economic recovery from the pandemic.
She said: “I am a firm believer that a free and fearless press is essential to hold those in power to account. The relationship between journalists and politicians is one that has tension at its heart.
“But it is a healthy tension, which can be productive and positive. Journalists are in the position to pose the questions that the public want to ask – and it is our duty as politicians to answer them as honestly and fairly as we can.”
“It is the role of journalists to ask those hard questions and, in doing so, provide a foundation for the democratic and open society in which we live.”
Pointing to the Scottish government’s regular COVID-19 media briefings, Sturgeon said that she frequently took questions from 15 to 20 media outlets every day, encompassing broadcast, print and online. These questions allowed the media to relay accurate guidance and advice to the public she said.
She added: “I am keenly aware of how important it is that the questions receive the answers they deserve, because journalism is an essential part of the country’s response to COVID: not only by asking those hard questions, but also in communicating vital factual information to the public.
“Newspapers’ daily and weekly print stories that explain Government thinking and the latest response to the pandemic – but also relay the guidance and advice that can help protect its readers from this potentially deadly virus.”
Alongside keeping the public informed, the media could also play a role in the economic recovery from the virus by providing a vital advertising platform for local businesses she said.
She added: “Newspapers also are an important part of the economic recovery from the impact of the virus. They can provide a vital platform, through their advertising, to businesses, in particular small and medium enterprises.”