on media Raymond Snoddy has some ideas for the review of the media

Clear the decks for the more pressing issues


efore governments get involved with the media they should adopt the medical mantra – first do no harm.

Prime minister Theresa May’s independent review of what the industry and government can do to sustain high-quality journalism into the future is welcome – although very late. To increase the review’s credibility, the government should do four simple things – most would prevent considerable harm, particularly to the local press – and would cost nothing. Before talking about newspaper

sustainability, the government should remove section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act requiring newspapers to pay all costs in libel cases even when they win unless signed up to a state sanctioned regulator.

It should ditch similar provisions on

data stitched onto the Data Protection Bill by miscreant Lords. It is more than time to rule out

formally a Leveson Two and finally accept the Leveson error of state oversight of newspaper regulation. Then acknowledge the reality of independent press regulator IPSO, despite its imperfections, and pension off the Gilbert and Sullivan Press Recognition Panel and its only child, Impress. Then the decks will have been cleared so the review can deal with pressing questions such as whether newspapers get fair compensation from social media for their content. That is one of the easier questions

the review will face. The numbers cited by the government are stark. Average annual revenue from an online reader amounts to £15, compared with £124 from print – and no one needs

reminding it is print that is in decline. More than 200 mainly local

newspapers have closed in the past decade and around two thirds of local authority districts no longer have a local daily paper. The sale of Express Newspapers to

Trinity Mirror is the latest eloquent sign of the sort of stress that drives consolidation in any industry. It should not take the review too long to get to the heart of the problems. Their manifestations, including the hollowing out of newsrooms, are everywhere before us. Coming up with workable solutions

will require a lot more imagination. Any significant action will require money – and, crucially, a transfer of funds from the multibillionaire new to the struggling old. Ideally, this should be voluntary but if necessary it should be imposed by regulation or law. The likes of Google’s Digital

8For the latest updates from Raymond Snoddy on Twitter follow @raymondsnoddy

“ ”

theJournalist | 19

Areas for further exploration include a tiny media transaction charge on the social media giants

Initiative Fund is a step in the right direction. But, while robots creating simple news stories for the Press Association are fine, the need is for more human reporters on the ground and help with the preservation of print. Better compensation

rates for online advertising is an obvious first target. Areas for further exploration

include: a tiny media transaction charge on the social media giants, or charges linked to UK subscriber numbers to pay for a media fund. Tech companies could create

a voluntary foundation to help pay for journalism, similar to the BBC’s 100 local reporters scheme. Could the tech companies or

the government also find a mechanism for subsidising newsprint? Profitable newspaper companies could be encouraged to commit to preserving numbers of journalistic jobs. In the longer term, the government should commit to media literacy in schools to point out the difference between fake news and professionally verified information. These are only morsels. Sharpen

your pencils. Come up with your best ideas for the future of your media. At least the newspaper industry

has belatedly got the attention of the government on the importance of honest news flows to both democracy and society.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28