Ex-Sun editor David Dinsmore has called on journalists to “stand together” against threats to silence the press and highlight the “immense good that journalism brings to society”.
The News UK chief has spoken out in a comment piece today shared with newspaper publishers across the UK to mark the launch of the News Media Association’s new Journalism Matters campaign.
Dinsmore, who is chairman of the NMA, which represents local, regional and national news publishers, said the campaign seeks to “highlight the importance of journalism to our democratic society.
“I hope this initiative will trigger a much-needed reset in the way journalists and journalism are viewed,” he said.
“There will always be those who try to stop the truth being exposed. There are many in power who would rather the press did not exist.
“We must stand together against this pernicious threat by sending a powerful message that we will not be cowed or silenced. And we must always seek to highlight the immense good that journalism brings to society. Journalism really does matter.”
Dinsmore warned that journalists across the world are “in danger of serious physical violence”, pointing to figures from Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) for 2019 alone that show ten journalists have been killed and 172 jailed.
Dinsmore said the murder of Irish journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed by terror group the New IRA while reporting on rioting in Derry on 18 April, was a “chilling example” of the risks journalists face.
“In a number of ways, the serious threat to freedom of speech is right here on our doorstep,” he said. “As an industry, we have to counter this by communicating the considerable benefits that journalism produces for society.”
He pointed to successful newspaper campaigns at both local and national level as being “what the business of journalism is all about”.
As examples, he named the South Wales Argus, which forced the local council to U-turn on the closure of a facility for vulnerable children, and the Glasgow Evening Times, which won a campaign for local authorities to introduce mandatory CPR lessons in all secondary schools.
The Times also recently won a campaign for no-fault divorces and the Daily Mail has led the drive against plastic supermarket bags.
Said Dinsmore: “These campaigns, and many more like them, have produced genuine and tangible benefits for society. And this good work is recognised.”