Buy Yorkshire: The Importance of Truth in Journalism (Holding the powerful to account)

2018 sees a new venue – First Direct Arena, Leeds.

The place is set out with ease. All the exhibitors in one room with sofa’s, tables and chairs to allow for networking to take place.

Having been a veteran to Buy Yorkshire, I found the new venue a delight. From the moment we arrived there was always a helping hand for any queries.

This year my interest was in communication and journalism. Given how we all now get our news from twitter and other digital formats, together with claims of “Fake News” or “Alternative Facts” what is the view from a panel of journalists? The panel “The Importance of Truth in Journalism” saw distinguished journalists consisting of Mark Cacsi Business Editor from the Yorkshire Post, Dia Chakravarty Brexit Editor for The Telegraph, Robin Pagnamenta Deputy Business Editor The Times and David Conn Sports Journalist for The Guardian. The panel was chaired by Simon Price, Mediacom Leeds.

The discussions centred around that there is a lot more “news” out in the public domain and that the landscape is shifting for journalism. Anyone can put out a news item on social media, but it does not mean that it is researched or balanced. Dia made a point that there must be a difference between opinion and researched investitive journalism. The panel agreed that all investigative journalism must be researched and balanced. There must be commitment to the story and as Mark said, “hold powerful to account”. It is not just the newspaper that has to have integrity, such as the Yorkshire Post that has been going for 270 years, but the journalist themselves. As a regional editor, you are answering to people daily as you will be passing them on the streets. Examples of such commitment were presented by The Guardian’s David Conn, that investigative journalism was important, particularly in keeping matters alive and having commitment to the story no matter how long it takes, for example, the Windrush story and Hillsborough.

The panel also held a consensus that the landscape of news and it’s presentation in newspapers is changing. Dia from The Telegraph commented that the next generation gets it’s quotes and news from Twitter and other social media platforms and tend to believe ‘they are based on fact’ when actually they are based on opinion. She used as an example of a recent Twitter feed that suggested Meghan Markle’s wedding dress had cost £300,000.00 and that the tax payer was footing the bill. The Tweet went viral. There was a subsequent tweet which, in essence, said the tweet was an opinion and not based on fact, this of course did not go viral.

David commented that ‘people forget the power of the press and the range of opinion’. Robin from The Times quite correctly stated that ‘whatever form of journalism is consumed… there has to be rigorous commitment to standards… traditional journalism needs to rethink what model works’.

Investigative journalism and newspapers cost money, whether that be in paper form or an online experience. We are now dealing with generations as Mark from the Yorkshire Post pointed out who have “not been in a record shop or seen a TV series normal…” the reality is “if people don’t pay for journalism we take away a cornerstone of our democracy’. The consumer will have to pay in order to keep journalism alive. From my perspective, in the combat of fake news, we need to keep our investigative Journalism and newspapers in business for a balanced view and to keep us all accountable.