VIEWdigital op-ed on future-proofing local journalism after COVID-19

uVIEWdigital op-ed on future of local journalism, 25 May 2021

I have an op-ed in VIEWdigital this week, which focuses on how to future-proof journalism after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drawing on my testimony to a hearing organised by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, my recommendations on how to improve media coverage of crises include:

1) Impose harsher penalties on social media companies for failing to remove misinformation and disinformation from their sites.

These could range from punitive fines to more radical measures such as recognising social media companies as media publishers.

2) Prioritise source criticism over objectivity in journalism.

False balance approaches that amplify inaccurate, unverified claims should be avoided. This approach should be implemented alongside existing factchecking initiatives (e.g. Full Fact) to counteract misinformation and disinformation during crises.

3) Protect public service media from government interference.

It is imperative that the editorial independence of these organisations is maintained in the future.

4) Provide financial support to the hyperlocal sector

Hyperlocal news sites should be given financial support from governments in order to reduce their reliance on digital advertising. For instance, the National Union of Journalists News Recovery Plan proposes that tax credits and interest free loans be provided to these outlets in order to ensure their sustainability.

5) Promote solutions journalism as a counterpoint to ‘snackable’ news coverage.

While there remains a need for more empirical evidence showing its impact on behaviour, solutions journalism is a corollary for encouraging citizens to think of collective rather than individual interests during these incidents.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it would be a start. As I argued previously, we should all do what we can to support local journalists, the ‘first responders’ during crises like the pandemic.

Thanks to Brian and Una for the opportunity. The piece can be read in full here

Contribution to VIEWdigital submission to APG on Press Freedom and Sustainability

VIEWdigital submission to APG on Press Freedom and Sustainability

I was happy to play a role in helping Una Murphy with VIEWdigital’s submission to the Stormont All-Party Group on Media Sustainability and Press Freedom. Key points included:

  • Local independent news outlets have provided a vital service to communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by producing local public interest news stories.
  • New approaches to restore trust in media, as well as new ways to raise revenue need to be found, to ensure media sustainability post pandemic
  • There remains a need for the News Recovery Plan put forward by the National Union of Journalists, which called for strategic investments in the hyperlocal sector and for tax credits and interest free loans to be made available to support our journalism, both during and after the pandemic.

Thanks to Una and Brian for the opportunity to contribute.

If you would like to contribute your views on this issue, please email unamurphy@viewdigital.org

Decentered Media Podcast on Wellbeing Media in Lockdown

Yesterday Cormac Lawler I took part in a podcast hosted by Rob Watson focussing on wellbeing and media during the COVID-19 lockdown. We discussed a wide variety of issues including what type of future awaits local journalism as we come out of the pandemic. Rob runs the excellent Media for Positive Social Change , which has some great podcasts, blogs and other resources about community media.

Many thanks to Rob for the invitation, and to him and Cormac for a really enjoyable chat!

The podcast can be access here

Op-ed on local journalism in Sheffield Telegraph

I have had an op-ed in the Sheffield Telegraph today. I argue that local journalism is playing a key role in providing support for communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to Victoria Wood and the staff at the Telegraph for the opportunity. The piece can be found here