NUJ condemns sweeping attack on journalists and media freedom

  • 10 May 2022

Legislation unveiled in the Queen's speech will create a hostile environment for journalists.

The NUJ has expressed concern about the impact of government legislation on journalists and journalism announced in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May. 

New bills and reforms to existing legislation mean journalists may now find themselves manoeuvring increasingly hostile environments through the course of their work. Government plans to proceed with reforms to existing law under the Official Secrets Acts, could see journalists prosecuted for reporting on information provided by sources, including whistle-blowers exposing wrongdoing by government.  

Despite a failure by the government to formally respond to the many submissions received in its summer consultation last year, it is now clear the government plans to move full steam ahead with little consideration for the damning impact on journalism of its proposals.  

Proposals to privatise Channel 4 under the Media bill were also revealed, despite mounting concerns and opposition over the detrimental impact it will have on its content, including its news output, and the detrimental impact on creativity and innovation in the creative industries. 

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: 

“For many this programme of legislation will feel like open season against journalists and journalism, and against all those who value the role that human rights and media freedom plays in our democracy. The NUJ will be working hard to see off these challenges to our members and the work they do.” 

The NUJ has previously voiced its concern about the lack of protection for journalists and their sources within the Online Safety Bill. Promises to amend the bill must be delivered on, to ensure journalistic content is not stripped from sites with potentially wide-ranging impacts on media freedom.  

Notably missing was an employment bill despite previous commitments from government, meaning yet again the rights of workers including those on freelance contracts has been overlooked.  

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