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SoE welcomes reports of new laws to protect journalists

Posted on: October 26, 2020 by Ian Murray

The Society of Editors (SoE) has welcomed reports that the government is set to introduce laws aimed at protecting journalists from abuse.

The Times reported at the weekend that journalists will be protected by new laws that require social media companies to take responsibility for threats and abusive material on their platforms.

In a statement, John Whittingdale MP, junior minister at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport rounded on the threats to journalists going about their work.

Whittingdale, who chairs the UK’s National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, told the Times of plans to publish details for legislation to tackle online hatred targeted at journalists.

“The need for accurate and trusted news has never been greater, yet attacks against journalists and the vital work they do are increasing.”

The move follows evidence collated by the government of threats made to journalists, particularly women working in the regional and local media.

The Times reported how some female journalists had left their jobs following online abuse.

As the SoE has reported, there were some 400 responses to a survey carried out by editor of the Oxford Mail Samantha Harman.

The National Committee for the Safety of Journalists is continuing to receive evidence of abuse and threats made to journalists. The Committee was established in spring of this year, as the SoE reported.

The SoE sits on the committee.

Ian Murray, SoE executive director said there must be a clear message that journalism is not a crime and that journalists going about their work should not be open to threats and abuse.