Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries MP calls on the public to buy newspapers and visit news sites in a quest to support the British press.
In an article written for the industry’s annual Journalism Matters campaign, Dorries highlights the government support given to the publishing industry, including a £35m public information campaign during the pandemic, and extended business rates relief for local newspaper offices in England.
Commenting on the rise of fake news and “big tech” facilitating misinformation, Dorries praises the work of journalists and editors as “our first line of defence” in creating “properly sourced, robustly researched journalism.”
However, the Culture Secretary emphasises the importance of protecting these “brilliant journalists” in the future.
She said: “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.”
Just this week, The Sun and Mail both complained that their stories were being unfairly downgraded by Google search rankings in favour of more liberal news sites, like The Guardian or the BBC, as reported in the Press Gazette.
The report explored the Mail Online’s allegation about “a cavalier abuse of Google’s dominant position in the advertising market, driven by hostile perceptions of Mail Online’s editorial content”.
This resonates with the government’s decision to also set up a new competition unit to make sure tech giants don’t abuse their dominance to disadvantage businesses that rely on them. Dorries sees this as creating an “even playing field.”
The bill will provide protections and exemptions for journalists to protect free speech while also hoping to force social media platforms to police their sites more effectively.