Fake news not entirely a figment of Mr Trump’s imagination after all?

An independent review into the future of high-quality journalism in the UK has issued a call for evidence. The fear is that as newspapers close and journalist numbers shrink, there is an increased threat to high-quality journalism in the UK.

Statistics evidence the continuing decline of the press market:

  • Total press industry revenues declined by more than half over the last ten years
  • The number of full-time journalists has fallen by over 25% since 2007
  • A quarter of all regional and local newspapers have closed in the past decade

Consumers’ consumption of news has changed as we rely more heavily upon online news and social media, rather than good old newspapers. Consequently, the UK Government is concerned that this is posing problems for high-quality journalism – both in the UK and globally.

Matt Hancock, DCMS Secretary of State, said: “Our fearless and independent press plays a vital role in informing citizens and is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built. At a time of dramatic technological changes and with our institutions under threat from disinformation, we need this clear-eyed view of how high-quality journalism can continue to be effectively produced, distributed and consumed.”

I agree. Nowadays, the only time I regularly read a newspaper is on a Sunday, and when I do pick up a paper in the week, I realise what a lot of world news I am missing out on. Like many of us, I rely on social media and other electronic channels for my view of the world, but that is quite narrow as it’s set to my preferences.

So, one must ask, are we narrowing our views too much and blinkering our awareness of important and new issues? Most definitely – and as technology gets smarter, so our awareness and resulting views on topics will become ever more narrow. Hopefully we won’t see a more intolerant and bigoted society with the next generation, who really don’t know anything else other than e-news.

A report commissioned for the review, found that circulation and print advertising revenues have dropped by more than half over the last decade, from nearly £7 billion to just over £3 billion. Over the same time, the number of frontline print journalists has dropped by over 25% – from around 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 in 2017.

Dame Frances Cairncross, Chair of the Review, said: “This review is not about preserving the status quo. We need to explore ways in which we can ensure that consumers in 10 years’ time have access to high-quality journalism which meets their needs, is delivered in the way they want, and supports democratic engagement.”

The Cairncross review is investigating the overall state of the news media market, particularly the press industry, including threats to financial sustainability, the role and impact of digital search engines and social media platforms, the operation of the digital advertising supply chain, and how content and data flows are operated and managed.


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