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Press freedom and and the UK experience

IMG_1549Journalism has never been more dangerous. Turbulent events around the world have made press freedom a battleground in the broader struggles for the rule of law and democracy. Whether in Hong Kong, Russia, the Middle East or the UK, journalists are in the firing line whenever state power clashes with pressures for accountable government and people’s right to know. William Horsley, former BBC correspondent and international director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield, argued at an FCC lunch on June 12, that the odds have shifted against press freedom as states have armed themselves with extra powers in the name of fighting terrorism and rising nationalism.

IMG_1537Horsley said there were lessons that may be learned from the UK, where revelations about the government’s mass surveillance programmes had prompted alarms about the death of investigative journalism – even though Britain’s Freedom of Information law is seen as a model for others. The struggle for press freedom – the ‘mother of all freedoms’ – would depend, Horsley feels, not just on the wisdom of governments but on the courage of civil society and on the animal spirits of the Fourth Estate itself.

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