6. Press Freedom

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Session Info

Supported by:

The Observer

Ever since John Milton published Areopagitica in 1644, freedom of the press has been a cornerstone of English democracy, yet lately those foundations appear to have been crumbling.

The last decade has seen 30 new pieces of legislation restricting freedom of expression, many thanks to religious sensitivities. New technologies have left the strategists running media groups without a business model that supports the investigative journalism supposed to hold legislatures to account. An economic downturn which journalists failed to spot has further sapped advertising, and looks to spell the end for local newspapers. The globalisation of publishing has meant the secretive can sue in any market and England, with its strict law and large payouts, has become a favourite libel destination. So-called ‘citizen journalism’ has failed to live up to

For the first time since the 1700s, not long after the time of Milton, there will be British cities without a local paper, their councils going about the public’s business unchecked. As yet, Britain is a long way from suffering the lack of free speech experienced in countries such as Pakistan. But thanks to apathy and a failure to find a new model of local and national journalism, the threat is growing… 


Chair:  Joanne Cash (barrister and Conservative Candidate)  
Speakers:  Fatima Bhutto (columnist, The News, Pakistan)
  Nick Cohen (journalist)
  Andrew Gilligan (journalist, Evening Standard)
  Alan Rusbridger (editor in chief, The Guardian)