Release date: 18 February 2019
The conclusions of the recent Cairncross review into sustainable journalism are a welcome step in the right direction, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).
Dame Francis Cairncross has hit the right note by highlighting the need to underpin local journalism, while attempting to deal with the damage that online advertising drain is having in the market place. It is essential for this to be highlighted as the industry struggles to deal with more than 240 title closures since 2005.
Consideration for tax breaks and grants are welcomed, as is the opinion that online news aggregators should be held more accountable for the news links they highlight and share.
However, any initiatives designed to support the industry through this unprecedented period should be focused on the long-term. Making sure there is a viable future for the local newspaper industry as well as quality journalism.
“The findings from the Cairncross review are encouraging,” says CIoJ President, Janice Shillum Bhend, “and we call on the government to implement recommendations as quickly as practical. Care should be taken to make sure that any support offered to the industry does not impact impartiality and has a focus on providing long-term solutions.”
Facebook’s pledge of millions to help train local journalists comes amid growing criticism of the company’s failure to deal with fake news on its platform, and might be seen as a cynical ploy to deflect that criticism. An over reliance on this support would be a concern when you cannot guarantee a commitment beyond the current political storm Facebook is experiencing.
“More support for training local journalists is vital,” says Shillum Bhend “but with the loss of so many local newspapers over the last decade, we must ensure there are jobs available after training. It is also crucial that any tax breaks, or regulation on social media news controls do not bring into question the independence of the industry, or free speech.”