Press Freedom is big issue for Society’s conference

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War correspondent Kate Adie will be speaking at the editors’ conference.

By Mariella Brown

The state of press freedom in the UK will be debated at the Society of Editors’ Annual Conference on November 12.

The panel, entitled Press Freedom: Old and Emerging Threats, draws some big names from across the industry to impart their perspective on the future of a free press. It will be chaired by Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of the international freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship.

Included in the debate will be the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, who takes overall charge for the regulation of the UK’s data protection and information rights.

Former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP will also be sitting on the panel and is the Chairman of the All Party Group for Media Freedom.

Martin Breen is editor of Northern Ireland’s largest newspaper, Sunday Life. Under his editorship, investigations have exposed criminal and terrorist elements in Northern Ireland, some of which have led to his reporters facing terrorist threats as a result of their work.

John Battle, ITN’s Head of Compliance, will also join the panel. He brings his expertise from advising editorial teams on legal issues such as libel and data protection, including leading the advice for Channel 4 News’ recent Cambridge Analytica investigation.

Ian Murray, the Society of Editors’ executive director said: “There are always threats to media freedom here in the UK, but it seems that at the present time they are legion.

From proposed changes from the Information Commissioner’s Office, to the Online Harms white paper, the laws of unintended consequences appear to be in play. And amid the current political turmoil, what are the dangers on the horizon should we face a change of government in the coming months?

The panel we have brought together to debate this issue is crucial to help the industry understand the realities of the media freedom landscape at this time.”

This year, to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Society, a Gala Dinner will be held at Stationers’ Hall in London. At the celebrations, former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie will deliver a speech and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for her life-long commitment to journalism.

Also speaking at the conference will be national newspaper editors James Harding (Tortoise), Ted Verity (The Mail on Sunday), Alison Phillips (Daily Mirror) and Chris Evans (The Telegraph).

A panel examining the survival of investigative journalism has also been announced with Claire Newell (Daily Telegraph), Paul Henderson (Daily Mirror), Jane Bradley (BuzzFeed) and Tom Bristow (Archant Investigations Unit).

The programme as it stands is available on the Society’s website. Early bird booking ends on 19 September – do book now to avoid missing out.

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