Thursday 13 February 2020 5:09 pm

House of Lords committee opens inquiry into future of journalism

The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee has opened a new inquiry into the future of journalism amid concerns about the impact of tech giants.

The committee today said it was seeking evidence on how digital technologies such as social media had changed the way journalism is produced and consumed, and how journalists could be supported to adapt to those changes.

Read more: Government hints at tax breaks in boost for news publishers

It also said the inquiry would explore how the profession could become more trusted by the general public.

“In our democracy journalism is at the core, but in recent years we have seen a shift from the traditional consumption of news and away from established business models,” said committee chair Lord Gilbert of Panteg.

“For the 70,000 people across the UK who are employed as journalists, the shift from traditional print media to digital has given rise to a need for more training and an increased range of skills.”

Pateng added that public trust in the industry had fallen and was particularly low outside London and other metropolitan hubs.

“This may be connected to the profession not being representative of the population it is serving,” he said.

It follows a major inquiry into the future of journalism led by Dame Frances Cairncross, which last year set out a number of recommendations to ensure the sustainability of high-quality reporting amid growing competition in the digital landscape.

In its response to that review, the government last month said it would consider a range of potential tax breaks for news publishers. However, it rejected the idea of a new quango focusing on public interest news.

The Lords inquiry, however, marks a particular focus on the lack of representation and diversity among journalists.

Read more: Publishers look to new revenue sources amid squeeze on digital advertising

The issue has become a line of attack for Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings, who has accused the BBC of only catering to a “metropolitan elite”.

The broadcaster has since vowed to move two-thirds of its staff outside London by 2027 in a bid to ensure its coverage reflected the whole country.