"Invaluable role of local papers in communities they serve"

Date: Wednesday 15th May 2019

A CAMPAIGN highlighting the vital role trusted news media journalism play in our democratic society has received the backing of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Journalism Matters, co-ordinated by the News Media Association, highlights the importance of local media.

Mr Hunt said: "Like many politicians, I don’t always enjoy reading what the newspapers say about me. But I believe that a free media is a fundamental requirement for a stable and healthy society.

"By holding authority to account and allowing the free exchange of ideas, journalism acts as a powerful force for progress. When everyone is able to share their ideas, a society benefits not just from the brains of the people who happen to be at the top, but from the originality and creativity of the entire population.

"As the home of local and national media outlets with a global reputation, I want Britain to play its part in championing media freedom worldwide.

"Too often, journalists have become targets just for doing their jobs. Last year, 99 journalists were killed across the world and another 348 locked up by governments. The thin red line between open and closed societies is the ability of the press to report freely.

"That’s why I have decided to join forces with the Canadian government to launch a global campaign to protect journalists and promote the benefits of a free media. Our overriding aim is to shine a spotlight on abuses and raise the price for those who would murder, arrest or detain journalists.

"The highlight of the campaign will be an international conference on media freedom in July which will see ministers and delegates from across the world gather in London.

"Far from being a cause of instability, professional journalism and a free media allow people the ability to voice their discontents without resorting to violence. Corruption, for example, is one of the biggest sources of anger in many countries. Yet powerful people will be far less likely to abuse their positions if there is a real risk of media exposure.

"In this the week of Journalism Matters, I would also like to pay tribute to the news media here in Britain.

"Journalism is more in demand than ever before as people seek out trusted content, with 48 million people in the UK viewing a local or national news brand every month.

"Trusted local papers play an invaluable role in the communities they serve, holding power to account and providing a public service by covering local authority meetings and the courts.

"Earlier this month, I attended World Press Freedom Day in Ethiopia ‚ a country that has recently made great strides towards a freer media. I was pleased to join the United Nations, the African Union and others in highlighting the progress, as well as the abuses that have taken place in other countries.

"I am delighted to support Journalism Matters and I hope it will help us all to champion the importance of media freedom."

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