← back to all news We must all keep the faith Posted on Tuesday 15th May 2018   |   0 comments

Gary Cullum’s commitment to local and national media is not shaken by threats to press freedom


BY the time you read this, we will know if common sense prevailed and MPs voted against the anti-press amendments in the Data Protection Bill. That vote was on Wednesday 9 May and I’m penning this column on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, two days earlier.

Many editors – especially those in charge of local newspapers – have been speaking out against the Section 40-style costs sanctions and the sprawling inquiry into all media, rightfully pointing out that the draconian measures would cause irreparable damage to the news sector if enacted.

One of the fundamental principles of newspapering is the commitment to independent journalism completely free from any form of state interference.

As Keith Harrison, editor of the Express & Star, and one of the regional newspaper editors united in urging MPs to vote against the amendments said: “The sustained attempts to bring in Section 40 costs sanctions and kick off a sprawling inquiry into the media undermine this principle and we therefore oppose them.”

 An anonymous survey of local newspaper editors conducted by the News Media Association, reported that 92 per cent of respondents said they did not think another “Leveson-style inquiry into the media should take place with the remaining eight per cent saying they weren’t sure. None of the 68 survey respondents thought the inquiry should go ahead”. 

My updated Ed’s Chair column, reflecting on the vote by MPs, will appear on PJ’s newly refreshed website at www.pjnews.co.uk. The new website is updated daily, bringing you the full round-up of industry news and views – print, business, digital, technology and international – while monthly printed PJ will continue to provide a unique insight into the world of newspapers and newsbrands with more in-depth features. The website remains a work in progress and will continue to evolve and expand its coverage.

Please bookmark it, and if you have a bookmark for the original 20-year-old website that was once at www.newstech.co.uk please update it to www.pjnews.co.uk 

It’s been a hectic past month, as is evidenced in the pages of this issue of PJ. Almost 500 industry executives and guests attended newsawards 2018 at the Royal Lancaster London on 18 April, the industry’s biggest night of the year, this year hosted by BBC news presenter Kate Silverton.

All the winners are featured in pictures in a four-page spread. There is also a special focus on page 3 opposite on Emma Mann from Isle of Man Newspapers who was winner of the debut Young Achiever of the Year award.

On pages 9 and 10, PJ features editor Caryl Holland reports on a visit to the Barnsley Chronicle in its 160th year and where chairman Sir Nicholas Hewitt says the company will continue to innovate. He tells PJ readers: “I have a lot of faith in the printed newspaper … people are interested in what happens next door or down the road so it is a question of supplying local information that they can’t get elsewhere. That is what is going to keep people buying newspapers.”

And that’s it in a nutshell – the very reason why freedom of speech is so vital to a healthy democracy and to the public’s right to know what is going on nationally, locally and beyond. And, of course, Sir Nicholas is right. Not only that but newsbrands must continue to add value, especially as newspapers are fighting a rearguard action to hold on to readers and find new revenue streams.

* The above article is from May’s printed PJ that went to press before the MP’s vote


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