Frances Cairncross today released her report on the future of the press in the UK.
The independent report is an overview of challenges facing journalism in the UK, putting forward recommendations to help protect its future.
Hacked Off’s Executive Director Kyle Taylor responded,
“Cairncross is absolutely right to note that a free, fact-based press is essential for democracy to function properly and empower UK citizens by allowing journalists to do their jobs and hold our leaders to account. The rise of disinformation and fake news can have serious consequences for the UK’s ability to self-determine its political future .
“Just like broadcast is already independently regulated, this report grants us an opportunity to tackle the threats to UK press freedom. By linking independent accountability with further VAT incentives and access to a new public interest media fund and pairing it with a media literacy education revolution, we can look to creating an environment that fact-based journalism can thrive in and where journalists can feel supported.
“Any solution starts with making print and online news providers and the tools spread that their message accountable to the people and public they’re meant to serve. If Facebook and Google want to show us that they are serious about tackling fake news and disinformation they should join us in calling for independent regulation, like broadcast, of print and online media.”
Hacked Off’s Director of Policy Nathan Sparkes added,
“The review has made some welcome proposals but it has ducked the two greatest threats to the future of the press in the UK: collapse in public trust and the power of the publishers. Without addressing these two existential threats to the UK press industry, the recommendations published today will have little effect.
“Most newspapers have rejected the Leveson recommendations to establish an independent regulator, recommended following data theft, phone hacking and unethical conduct scandals at a number of papers. To restore trust we need action but, on accountability, this review offers appeasement.
“Across the local newspaper industry, a handful of companies dominate. These companies have become an existential threat to their own industry: buying up new titles, gutting them of staff and resources, and squeezing their reduced workforces to prop-up profits.
“If the Government cares for press freedom and the viability of the press in the UK – especially the local press – it must tackle these twin threats. The recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry on these matters are more important today than ever before, and show the way to secure a free and thriving press.”
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