News publishers highlight importance of journalism in Irish democracy
Journalism Matters campaign calling for a reduction in VAT rate
Journalism Matters argues for the appointment of a Minister for Media, the establishment of a news publishers media fund and a training support scheme for journalists. Photograph: Frank Miller
Irish news publishers have joined forces to highlight the vital role of journalism in Irish society with a campaign to run throughout next week.
Journalism Matters week seeks to remind the public that national and regional newspapers and news services continue to set the news agenda and reflect the interests of the communities they serve.
Representing all national and local news publishers, members of NewsBrands and Local Ireland have sought the support of TDs and Senators for independent journalism with advance briefings outlining their demands for the Government and Budget 2019.
The campaign is calling for a reduction in the VAT rate from 9 per cent to 5 per cent on newspapers and digital publications. It is also seeking an overhaul of Ireland’s defamation laws, which, it says, are deterring publishers from telling stories that need to be told.
Journalism Matters argues for the appointment of a Minister for Media, the establishment of a news publishers media fund and a training support scheme for journalists.
Chairman of NewsBrands Ireland Vincent Crowley said journalism was at a crossroads and government inaction was not an option: “Without the supports and investment, and clarity on VAT rates, the sector will not be able to thrive and invest, but will falter and publications will be forced to close or at best scale back on the good, independent journalism that has been a bedrock of Irish democracy.”
President of Local Ireland, Frank Mulrennan said the losses would extend far beyond the newspaper titles being shut down in local communities. He said: “Without strong and healthy local newspapers politicians will be challenged in maintaining engagement with the electorate because local newspapers reach at least 1.5 million people across Ireland each week.”
Over the course of the week, all of the titles will carry opinion pieces which celebrate the value of an independent press. A video series which forms part of the campaign features 15 examples of outstanding public interest journalism, with stories told by the journalists who wrote them.
NewsBrands members include The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, the Irish Sun, the Irish Daily Mirror and the Irish Daily Star and Sunday titles.