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20 December 2018

Hunt Makes Media Freedom ‘A Priority’ For 2019

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to make media freedom a top priority for the coming year and has announced plans for the UK to host an international conference promoting media freedom and the safety of journalists.

In a speech this week, Foreign Office Minister Mark Field said the UK was at the forefront of “a growing international consensus” on the need to take action against countering hostile state disinformation, in which independent media would play a “crucial role.”

Referring to a piece by Mr Hunt in the Evening Standard - in which he announced plans for an international conference to promote media freedom - Mr Field said that journalists across the globe were under threat and needed “more support from us.”

He said: “Globally, threats to journalists are at the highest level in 10 years. Last year, 78 journalists were killed, and over 300 imprisoned for no other reason than doing their job.

“Building on our proud history of a vibrant and independent media, our Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that he will make the promotion of media freedom a priority over the coming year.

“We want to work with all of you to put this issue at the forefront of international discourse. We shall host a major international conference next year to mobilise a global consensus behind the protection of journalists.

“We shall support Media Freedom projects and we shall expand the number of journalists receiving training, including in newsrooms here in the UK.

Mr Field spoke of the threat of disinformation spread through social networks and the importance of trusted media in overcoming this.  

He added: “Internationally we are investing £100m in countering disinformation. This work includes providing important capacity-building support to independent media. One of the best antidotes to disinformation is a robust, free, vibrant and varied media landscape.

“There is less space for disinformation to take hold where there is trust in a wide and robust national and local media.

“Independent media and investigative journalism have a crucial role to play in challenging disinformation when it occurs, and helping to educate audiences to make them more resilient to disinformation.

“However, journalists need more support from us, because in too many parts of the world their work puts them in great danger.”