Scotland's News - towards a sustainable future for public interest journalism: report

Independent report produced by the short-life Public Interest Journalism Working Group outlining their recommendations to the Scottish Government on developing a sustainable future for public interest journalism in Scotland.

Defining public interest journalism

In preparing the recommendations in this report, the working group developed the following definitions of public interest news and public interest news providers:

A Public Interest News Provider is an organisation which:

  • produces and disseminates public interest news, as defined below, and where this forms a significant proportion of its output
  • provides clear and transparent information about its ownership, including a registered office address, where applicable, and contact details
  • can demonstrate transparency and identification of authorship of all published and broadcast content
  • carries legal responsibility for its published and broadcast content
  • conforms to industry-recognised standards and its journalists, broadcasters and writers conform to a publicly available code of conduct
  • can demonstrate participation in a transparent and effective complaints-handling process

Public Interest News means news which is produced and disseminated to the public according to high standards of ethical conduct and best practice in journalism and which provides one or more of the following benefits to the public:

  • informs members of the public about matters of relevance to their role and responsibilities as citizens
  • enables members of local communities to become aware of and understand matters of common concern to them as members of their community and which promotes their involvement and cooperation in such matters and community cohesion accordingly
  • enables members of the public to participate in an informed manner in relevant democratic processes and, as a result, supports the legitimacy of the democratic process as a whole; and/or
  • benefits the public by promoting charitable educational outcomes, such as improving public understanding of health and medical matters or the conservation of the environment

The working group believes that the definition of public interest news should be interpreted as broadly as possible. Members of the group agree that public interest news can be entertaining as well as informative, and that public interest news providers should be free to take a stance on contested issues. In order to attract certain benefits (such as charitable status), some public interest news providers may have to accept a narrower definition, which does not allow them to take a partisan stance on certain issues. But in general, the benefits set out in this report should be available to all public interest news providers, regardless of their politics or their business models.



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