JOURNALISM: Newspapers must fulfil their role in keeping the public informed without fear of intimidation or harassment.”

Wealthy individuals attempting to “avoid scrutiny and public criticism” through use of SLAPPs, says Society of Editors

Urgent reform is required to put an end to the practice of wealthy individuals and companies attempting to “avoid scrutiny and public criticism” through the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), the Society of Editors has said.

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on SLAPPs, the Society said that for too long powerful individuals and companies have attempted to silence and intimidate journalists and critics through time-consuming and costly litigation.

Frequently linked to investigations into financial crime and corruption, the Society said that efforts to tackle SLAPPs as well as the “hidden iceberg” of pre-publication legal intimidation, could include a new anti-SLAPP law or tweaks to existing legislation to reduce the opportunities for abuse.

It said: “Alongside tweaks to the Defamation Act 2013 to reduce the opportunities for abuse and updates to Civil Procedure Roles, the Society would support an anti-SLAPP law that could introduce procedural reform across all laws used for the purpose of intimidation and to ensure that practical deterrents are introduced to enable journalists – as well as campaigners, academics and authors – to continue to fulfil their role in keeping the public informed without fear of intimidation or harassment.”

Read more here.

Newsrooms must constantly innovate to secure their future, says BBC’s Ros Atkins 

Journalists and newsrooms must continuously innovate if they are to maintain a place in people’s lives, BBC journalist Ros Atkins has said.

Speaking at the Society of Editors Future of News conference last week, Atkins said that news is not a given in people’s lives and that reporters can’t assume that people will seek to learn about the world via journalism. Newsrooms must continue to constantly innovate, re-structure and produce content in a format that audiences want to consume it if they are to secure their future, he said.

Atkins said: “It can’t be assumed people understand and value the way that journalism works or why we think that gives the information we produce value. It can’t be assumed that the way we tell stories is the way people want to hear them. Our place in people’s lives is not guaranteed.

“And so when I look at the need to innovate, to reimagine, to restructure what we do – it’s not because change is fun and creative and exciting – though it can be all of those things. For me this is a necessity.

“If you believe in the importance of journalism to our society – and to the world – then actively engaging in what we need to become isn’t optional. This isn’t some distant moment.”

Atkins, the presenter of the BBC’s Outside Source, has seen many of his explainer videos for BBC News go viral. His recent February 2022 explainer on the invasion in Ukraine has more than three million views on Twitter alone.  Discussing the radical shift in recent years in respect of people’s media consumption habits, Atkins told the Society conference that newsrooms must constantly innovate and accept that “not everything is going to work”.

Read more here.

Watch the Society’s video tribute to all journalists killed in Ukraine and all conflict zones 

Last week’s Society of Editors Future of News conference saw a powerful video tribute played in memory of all journalists killed in Ukraine and all conflict zones. Produced for the Society by Sky News, the video tribute can be watched here.

Cabinet Office FOI Clearing House Review 

The Society of Editors has been contacted by the Cabinet Office FOI Clearing House Review  who, now that the review has launched, will be conducting a series of interviews across central government FOI teams and with external stakeholders.  They are keen to speak to some journalists/editors about their experience with FOI and would welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone with a particular interest or experience of using FOI requests. Anyone who would like their name to be put forward for possible approach should email Claire Meadows at

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