The importance of independent journalism

At Bristol24/7 our small team tells stories that would otherwise not be told. Local journalism has been under threat for many years. It has become increasingly difficult to sustain small independent media organisations through traditional approaches as large national media corporations and the global social media giants take an increasingly large slice of the pie.  The last 18 months have shown just how important our journalism is. Events in Bristol have thrust our city into the international spotlight and at the same time, we’ve experienced unprecedented challenges. We asked our editor Martin Booth to reflect on independent journalism:

How is independent journalism under threat?

This is the first year that I’ve seen fellow journalists go to jobs with a security guard with them when they’re reporting. During the Kill the Bill protests, I had bottles flying over my head and fireworks exploding at my feet. 

Why is local news important?

People want to know what’s happening at the end of their street and if local journalism isn’t there, well we don’t know what the people governing our city are talking about. We need to hold them accountable.

Does Bristol24/7 tell the truth?

I think it’s the job of journalists to tell the truth. Our journalists are not told what to write, I would never dream of telling anybody what opinion piece they should write or what line to take. One of the things I value most about my own editorial freedom is that I make sure that I stay well away from sales conversations because our independence is crucial.

Does Bristol24/7 add value to our city?

We give young journalists the opportunity to come in on our work experience programmes. One of the things that I always try to show through the pages of Bristol24/7 is a sense of fun. We live in a fantastic city. Saying that, we don’t look through rose-tinted glasses; it’s really important to speak truthfully about some of the problems, from holiday hunger to housing. We’d be pulling the wool over our readers eyes if we just painted a picture of Bristol being the best city ever. We celebrate Bristol while also questioning Bristol.

What makes Bristol24/7 different?

We are not owned by a large corporation and ensure commercial pressures do not influence the integrity of our journalism. We try our best to tell the truth, a truth that reflects the different views across our city. We’re committed to bringing through new voices via our community reporters programme where we recruit, train and employ people who have not taken traditional routes into journalism. 

Read the full Q&A with Martin here.

Our full social impact report for 2021 can be found here.

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