The Queen has highlighted the vital role played by newspapers during the coronavirus pandemic at the start of this week’s campaign to promote local journalism.
In the message of support to the News Media Association – the organisation representing national and local newspaper publishers and the organiser of the Journalism Matters campaign – The Queen wrote: “”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.”
The Journalism Matters Week launched yesterday (October 5) and runs until Sunday October 11. It is designed to celebrate the importance of journalism in society.
News Media Association chairman Henry Faure Walker said that trusted journalism has been a vital part of the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis but the industry which produces it needs support.
He said: “This year has been one of the most disruptive and uncertain in living memory. The coronavirus has swept the globe leaving a trail of misery and hardship in its wake.
“In the news media industry, part of our job has been to help our readers make sense of these unprecedented events. And we know that our journalism is making a difference, as audiences for trusted news and information have soared during the crisis.
“Independent research shows that the public place great value on news and information from sources they can trust during the pandemic.
“Providing the public with trusted and accurate information is at the heart of what we do.
“The local and national news media have been a fundamental part of the country’s response to coronavirus and will continue to be so.”
Mr Faure-Walker said journalism had not been immune to the challenges of coronavirus.
“Advertising revenues, the lifeblood of independent journalism, have been hammered by the economic downturn leaving us with less money to invest in the journalism we all want to read. At the local level, many news brands are in a perilous position.
“We now urgently need government to intervene with a series of targeted initiatives to help sustain local independent journalism in this country.
“This problem must be tackled urgently in order for journalism to have a bright future.”