Attempts to use the data protection regime to stifle freedom of speech pose a grave threat to local newspaper journalism which does so much good in our society, News Media Association chairman David Dinsmore said today.
Speaking to journalists during a visit to local newspapers in Chichester, David praised local papers “as a force for good in our society” but warned of the dangers if MPs fail to reject the Section 40 costs sanction and the broad Leveson 2-style inquiry, which have been tagged onto the Data Protection Bill.
Coming in the run up to Local Newspaper Week, David’s visit to Johnston Press’ Chichester publishing centre, where papers including the Chichester Observer are produced, was hosted by Gary Shipton, Sussex editorial director and Johnston Press deputy editor in chief. David toured the newsroom before addressing assembled journalists.
David said: “Next week is Local Newspaper Week, when we will all be celebrating the power of local newspapers to make a real difference to the communities they serve. It is deeply ironic then that, tomorrow, in the run up to the Week, our elected representatives in the House of Commons are set to consider amendments which would cripple local and national newspapers.
“It is essential that they are resisted. Press freedom is already at an all-time low in this country and these further restrictions would irreversibly damage freedom of speech in this country.”
David concluded: “But I am heartened to see today that local journalism is not only alive and well but continuing to make a real and positive difference to people’s lives. That’s what the best journalism – local, regional or national - should be about.”
Gary added: “The anti-press measures in the Data Protection Bill represent a clear and present danger to local journalism. MPs who believe in our democracy must stand up for freedom of speech by decisively rejecting the amendments when they come before the Commons tomorrow.”