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09 October 2020

The Queen Sends Message Of Support To NMA Members For Journalism Matters

The Queen has sent a message of support highlighting the vital role played by newspapers during the coronavirus pandemic to News Media Association members for the Journalism Matters campaign. 

In the message of support, The Queen writes: "On the occasion of the 2020 Journalism Matters Week, I am pleased to send my best wishes to the members of the News Media Association.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated what an important public service the established news media provides, both nationally and regionally. As our world has changed dramatically, having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital.

"The efforts of the news media to support communities throughout the United Kingdom during the pandemic have been invaluable – whether through fundraising, encouraging volunteering, or providing a lifeline for the elderly and vulnerable to the outside world.

"As you reflect on your achievements this year, and the challenges you have faced, I send my warm good wishes to you all for a most successful and memorable week."

National, regional, and local news brands all over the country have taken part in Journalism Matters this year with coverage of The Queen's message across many local titles and all national newspapers in NMA membership including The Daily MailThe Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph

An op ed by NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker looking at the role of journalism during the coronavirus pandemic was also widely covered at the start of the week. Mr Faure Walker said: "In the news media industry, part of our job has been to help our readers make sense of these unprecedented events.     

"We have reported on every twist and turn of the local and national lockdowns and kept you up to date with vital public health information. We have held power to account and robustly challenged the decision-makers on your behalf.

"Sometimes, our role has been to seek clarity amid confusion from the authorities, and toxic misinformation about coronavirus spread by bad actors on social media. It’s a role we take very seriously, and our journalists are better equipped than anyone else to do the job.

"And we know that our journalism is making a difference, as audiences for trusted news and information have soared during the crisis."

Reach Plc’s local and regional news brands featured articles on how they made a difference to their communities in 2019. The Leicester Mercury is marking Journalism Matters week with a series of special reports on Leicestershire Live and in the Leicester Mercury.

They are encouraging readers to share their experiences of 100 days in lockdown so that "they can ensure our coverage truly reflects how you, the people of Leicester and Leicestershire, have been affected by the pandemic."

Writing in the i for Journalism Matters, editor Oly Duff said: "It is not hard for anyone to find examples of rigorous journalism that has improved their own life. Every community that loses its media loses influence over its future.

"People who buy newspapers or who subscribe to digital media, who pay for journalism, already know this. After years of hyperbole, this is a battle for survival and – if objective truth is to have any meaning – for a first draft of history that bears some resemblance to events."

Speaking ahead of Journalism Matters week, Birmingham Mail editor Graeme Brown said: "Our journalists have now spent more than half of the last 12 months away from our newsroom - but I am proud to say they have never stepped away from their communities.

"Looking back over the past 12 months, from fundraising to being a good critical friend, we've worked alongside people locally to try and help make Birmingham and the wider West Midlands a better place for those who live alongside us.

"And then there's coronavirus. Our team has risen to the challenge of reporting some of the biggest challenges any of us will ever see - often under difficult circumstances.

"It has been a shock to the system for us, just like the communities we serve, but we've held people to account locally and nationally and called for better, while reflecting the enormous debt of gratitude we have to those who just never stopped working."

The Oban Times also published a feature promoting Journalism Matters week which said: “Newspapers like The Oban Times bring a sense of cohesion to communities large and small, guiding them through this troubled and confusing era, a reassuring presence that local life still goes on in all its forms, for good or bad.”

The Express and Star published a series of articles for the campaign including piece looking back at their role in recording the impact of the coronavirus on the lcoal community and their business.  

Jamie Macaskill, digital editor of Hull Live, said: “Our reporting isn’t an algorithm, it isn’t manufactured inside some computer code in an attempt to please all of our readers all of the time. Some coverage you may find unappealing. But we trust that what you find interesting, engaging or informative outweighs those stories you disagree with.

“We pride ourselves on trust. Our staff are trained journalists, regulated by the industry watchdog IPSO, and every article is vetted and checked by experienced content editors prior to publication.

"Our journalists also live locally, send their kids to local schools, eat and drink in local cafes, bars and restaurants, shop locally and support local causes. At our heart the Hull Daily Mail and Hull Live remain embedded in our communities. We are proud to be the first point of call for news, sport and information in Hull and the East Riding. We hope you agree that Journalism Matters.”

To mark the campaign, The Sunday Post encouraged readers to call out to their local MPs and MSPs to ask what they are doing to help preserve local journalism.

James Preston, print and digital editor at Maidenhead Advertiser, said: “This week is Journalism Matters Week, a time for everyone in our industry to celebrate the best of what we do. It feels more important to do this than ever before.

"The work done by the team at the Advertiser constantly fills me with admiration. Even before the pandemic hit we were all working in a high pressure environment, but the team’s professionalism and commitment to the job has never wavered.

He added: “Across the industry, demand for local news is growing, and newspapers are looking at new ways to make money so they can continue to provide an essential service. Many are looking at subscription or pay-as-you-read models, such as our own Axate payment system.

"Some readers may object, but there is a growing argument that publishers cannot continue to give away news that costs time and money to produce if they are to remain sustainable.

“A belief that the world needs local newspapers – which I know many of you share – will help us ensure the world will have local newspapers in the future.”

The Bromsgrove Standard also shared an article on the importance of Journalism Matters, sharing quotes from managing director, Chris Bullivant Jnr and local editors across their titles, championing local journalism in its role in informing, enlightening and entertaining readers.

To mark #TrustedNewsDay, many have opened up their newsrooms to show the challenges of reporting, especially during the pandemic and to show how trusted journalism is produced.

The hashtag has been trending on Twitter for most of the day. 

Hereford Times editor John Wilson published a piece entitled 10 jibes aimed at the Hereford Times... and how I answer them in which he tackles a series of commonly held myths about local media. 

The Leader launched a live Trusted News Day blog to give readers and audiences a chance to see how their news rooms operates. They encouraged readers to ask them any questions about how the Leader is run and what they do each day to bring them their local news.

The Salisbury Journal marks the day by sharing a list of their best stories over the last few months.

The Shropshire Star launched a live page dedicated to showing readers the process of how their local newspaper is brought to life, from how they research and find stories to working on the graphics for their next editions.

  • Picture credit: PA Media/Victoria Jones.