Journalism Matters

Journalism Matters

Strong, Independent Journalism Matters

Good journalism shines a light on the secrets of the past. Good journalism challenges authority and helps us understand what is going on around us. Good journalism connects communities. In Ireland local newspapers are the voices of their communities and regions.

All over the world a strong newspaper sector is central to a free and democratic society. Often attacks on the media are the first sign of a democracy under threat and the rise of authoritarianism. But good journalism persists – and puts the need of the people to know first.

But, in Ireland, good journalism is under threat.

Seismic technological change is disrupting journalism all over the world. Ireland is no exception to this. The growth of ‘fake news’ raises serious concerns about where we can source truthful, accurate accounts on all the issues that shape our lives. Changed advertising models have put enormous pressure on local and national media outlets.

News media publishers have not been standing still, and have invested in innovation to connect with their readers. And Irish people love their news, Currently there are an estimated 300 million page / screen views per month.

But more needs to be done.

Irish journalism is at a crossroads. Doing nothing is not an option.

If newspapers were to disappear so too would much of Irish online news, and with it many stories that need to be told.

Such an outcome would be good for ‘fake news’, but bad for Ireland.

But the good news is that we can do something about this. Like other countries have done, Ireland can take practical steps to ensure a sustainable future for journalism in Ireland.

How can the government support trusted journalism?

Many other countries actively support their independent journalism. Denmark does. UK does. France does. And many more. Ireland does not have to be different.

In Ireland there are lots of practical things we can do to support independent journalism.

Complete the long-overdue Review of the Defamation Act and reform Ireland’s draconian defamation laws that support legal costs so punitive they have the potential to put publishers out of business.
Tackle the dominance of tech platforms in the digital advertising market. Transpose the EU Copyright Directive which provides a legal basis in Article 15 for publishers to negotiate payment for the use of their content with platforms. This should be supported by mandatory codes.
Reduce VAT to 0% on newspapers and digital news products, as is the case in Britain and other EU countries.
Ensure public service journalism is supported across all media. The current funding model, which allocates funds to broadcast media only, should be open to all public service content providers.
Implement a Digital Tax, a portion of which to be allocated for training of journalists
Provide subsidies for the distribution of newspapers.

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