The Scottish Government commissioned this short-life working group on public interest journalism in January 2021 in response both to the immediate pressures facing Scottish-based news organisations as a result of the Covid pandemic and to the longer-term problems for public interest journalism created by the digital revolution and fast-evolving communications environment of the last two decades.
Under the secretariat of the Creative Industries, Screen and Media Unit, the working group was assembled from across the spectrum of the news publishing sector, from small community-based initiatives to major UK publishers. The result was a consensus, which recognised not only the scale of the problems but also the public benefit of a strong and diverse media ecosystem with both small and large participants.
Drawing from local, national and international examples, this report aims to provide the basis for a rich and sustainable news publishing landscape which provides the public with a reliable supply of accessible, trusted information, enhances democratic accountability at all levels, binds communities together and represents all groups in Scottish society, including those that have not historically had a strong voice in the media.
We believe that answers are at hand to ensure that both established titles and new independent players can thrive, and that journalists can develop rewarding careers in Scotland that will see them through their working lives. Above all else, we are confident that our proposed solutions will go a long way towards ensuring that all members of the Scottish public can benefit from a choice of information which suits their needs and encourages full engagement with civic and democratic life at all levels, from the local to the global.
In asking the group to produce this report, the Scottish Government has already shown its belief in the importance of independently produced public interest journalism. We are glad to see that, in its Programme for Government, the Government has made a commitment to 'ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of public interest journalism in Scotland' and to 'listen and respond to the recommendations of the Public Interest Journalism Working Group.' By taking our recommendations forward, the Government can demonstrate both its support for Scottish journalism and its recognition of the key role played by public interest journalism in promoting a robust democratic culture, in Scotland and beyond.
The Public Interest Journalism Working Group