An unfree media?

Photo: Lauren McGaun

This time each year, we hold our annual reception where we meet over drinks to renew friendships, forge our networks and hear from a guest speaker. Given the pandemic, holding a physical event is not possible so instead we held a special online event to discuss freedom of the media.

We had an impressive line-up of speakers for our event with Alex Crawford OBE, Special Correspondent, Sky News, Ben de Pear, Editor, Channel 4 News, Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive, Internews Europe and Sean O’Neill, Chief Reporter, The Times on the panel. They were brilliantly chaired by Reeta Chakrabarti, BBC News.
It was certainly a very frank and lively discussion about the challenges that journalists face today in what is a crucial time for transparency and accountability at global, national and local levels.

Against a backdrop of Covid, Brexit and US Presidential elections, these range from “being believed” to financial restraints to political favouritism. Much of the discussion focused on how governments and politicians are refusing to engage with some media outlets and the impact that has on holding these institutions to account.

Even though the panel felt that there is an “existential crisis” in their industry, there was a “clarion call for all journalists to stand up for each other to stop the erosion of journalism” and “to find a few teeth to take on governments and establishments”.

There was agreement that “we’ll all be poorer if journalists are in fear” and that people want news they can trust, from professional journalists.

Despite all the obstacles, there was much optimism and energy about the future of the media with many reasons to be positive. “Now is the best time to be a journalist”. “Being a journalist is fun, it’s important, you can help people to tell their stories”. “We’ve never needed journalists more than now”.

You can watch a recording of the discussion here.

We would like to thank all our speakers for giving up their time to share their insight as well as their passion for freedom of the media.