The Culture Secretary called on the public to use trusted news sites in the fight against misinformation such as vaccine conspiracy theories.
Nadine Dorries hailed the “well-researched and well-researched” work of journalists as “our first line of defense” against fake news such as Covid-19 “vaccine conspiracies” facilitated by tech giants.
In a post supporting the industry’s Journalism Matters campaign, she said the government’s proposed online safety law would “force tech companies to clean up their sites” and “prevent social media companies from arbitrarily removing the content from respected news organizations”.
The bill, she said, also includes “extremely important protections and exemptions for journalists, so that we can protect their freedom of expression while requiring social media platforms to properly police their sites.” .
Ms Dorries promised a new competition unit would create a ‘level playing field’ by ensuring big tech companies such as Google ‘do not abuse their dominance’ over the information people see.
“In government, we do everything we can to help our brilliant journalists do their jobs without fear or favour,” she said.
“This week, you can do the same – by picking up a newspaper or visiting the websites of our world-renowned news industry.”
However, Henry Faure Walker, chairman of the News Media Association, warned time was running out for some local publishers as he called on the government to curb the BBC’s expansion into areas already covered by commercial outlets. .
“The BBC must be stopped from rolling its license-funded chariots onto the turf of the struggling independent local news sector,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the BBC’s plans to expand its local news services in direct competition with commercial media would be extremely damaging to local journalism – and by extension to local democracy.”
Ms Dorries used her opinion piece to highlight the Government’s support for the publishing industry, including a £35million public information campaign during the pandemic and extended commercial tariff relief for local newspaper offices in England.