Why journalism matters more than ever – Nadine Dorries

JOURNALISM Matters. That’s the theme of this week’s national campaign, being led by the News Media Association, to celebrate the role a free press plays in British society, and it’s a powerful statement of fact.

The Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post team when Olympic boxing heroine Nicola Adams visited our offices to announce her retirement.

But why? It’s not just so we can have something entertaining to read with our morning bowl of corn flakes.

Our democracy relies on it. Good journalism exposes wrongdoing and injustice, it scrutinises people in power and it champions and celebrates good causes.

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And at the heart of our news 
industry are local newspapers, powered by the reporters, copy editors, photographers and publishers working 24-7 to bring us trusted local news and information.

Nadine Dorries, the new Culture Secretary, is endorsing this week's Journalism Matters initiative.

Their papers – like The Yorkshire Post and its many sister titles across the country such as the Bedford Times and Citizen in my own constituency – are the pillars of their communities.

They keep us in the loop with the stories that impact our day-to-day lives – from council or court decisions to the rise and fall of local sports teams.

The Yorkshire Post newsroom prior to the Covid pandemic.

I want to pay tribute to the people who keep those papers in print.

They work incredibly hard – and not always in the easiest of circumstances 
– to keep us informed and entertained. Their work has become even more important in the internet age.

Every day, we all go online and check our Facebook feeds, or scroll through Twitter or Instagram.

Each time we do so, we can be exposed to worrying misinformation such as Covid vaccine conspiracy theories.

Now, more than ever, we need properly sourced, robustly researched journalism.

According to Ofcom, around 
two-thirds of people feel that the news they consume from print newspapers is just that: trustworthy, high quality, and accurate.

Journalists are our first line of defence in the fight against fake 
news.

We backed news publishers last year with a £35m public information campaign during the pandemic, pumping vital advertising revenue into publishing.

We issued guidance to local authorities to allow newspaper deliveries to continue, zero-rated VAT on e-newspapers to make it easier for people staying at home to read their daily paper, and have extended business rates relief for local newspaper offices in England for an additional five years 
so that they can keep more of their 
hard-earned income.

All of that has helped our papers get through Covid.

But we’ve got to look to the future.

We’re living in a digital age, and one of the biggest issues in my in-tray as Culture Secretary is making sure big social media platforms protect their users from danger online, including misinformation.

We’ve introduced a trailblazing 
Online Safety Bill that will make us one of the first countries in the world to force tech companies to clean up their sites.

But, crucially for journalists, that Bill will also prevent social media firms from arbitrarily taking down content from respected news organisations.

And, even better, it includes extremely important protections and exemptions for journalists, so that we can protect their free speech while forcing social media platforms to police their sites properly.

We’ve also got to make sure news publishers and big tech compete on an even playing field – and we’ve set up a new competition unit charged with making sure the most powerful tech giants do not abuse their dominance to disadvantage businesses that rely on them.

In government we’re doing all we can to help back our brilliant journalists to go about their jobs without fear or favour.

This week you can do the same – by picking up a paper or visiting the websites of our world-renowned news industry.

Nadine Dorries is the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the 
MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

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