The speech made by Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in London on 30 October 2023.
That’s what this week in the year is about.
But it isn’t something that we should just acknowledge this week.
It is something we should acknowledge every month. Every week. Every day.
Your work in holding people, organisations and countries to account.
Your reporting without fear or favour.
Calling out wrongful activity and evil.
Combatting mis and disinformation.
These are the signs of a true democracy.
Freedom of the press is not actually about media freedom.
It is about our freedom.
Through your reporting you are protecting the freedom of others.
And in a world of social media, mainstream media plays a critical role.
Your fact checked, legal proofed, thorough work, allows truth to prevail in an increasingly uncertain world.
And what you do takes courage.
I know all of you in the room right now will be worried about your colleagues.
Those working in war zones across the globe.
Your journalists are putting their lives on the line for truth, freedom and democracy.
The events in Israel and Gaza have recently made me think of other journalists.
The American Journalist James Foley who was abducted in Syria and beheaded by ISIS.
Evan Gershkovich the Wall Street Journalist detained in Russia.
The 14 civilian journalists and media workers who have been killed in the line of duty since Russia invaded Ukraine .
And of course, we are all thinking of the journalists covering the conflict in Israel and Gaza right now.
Nine journalists have sadly already lost their lives.
And my thoughts are with all of them and their families,
And all of you, who no doubt keenly feel the loss of your friends.
And it’s not just you and your colleagues’ courage in the face of war.
But the courage in dealing with issues which evoke hate and abuse on social media.
Or the full force of legal threats and pressure from the rich and powerful who try to keep their secrets secret.
Courage to stand up to unscrupulous regimes and people in positions of power.
I want you to know that we, in government, have your back.
We understand what you are doing and why it is so important.
It’s why we launched the National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists.
…Why we are legislating to make it harder for powerful people to stop the publication of investigative journalism through unscrupulous lawsuits.
And why we expanded the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists to deal with these legal threats.
It’s why we are supporting you through the Digital Markets Bill which should enable you to get fair terms and fair compensation when your work is hosted on digital platforms.
And it is why we will remove a threat to freedom of the press by repealing S40 so costs are not a bar to investigative journalism.
You do not need telling that your courage has shaped our history.
Bringing down the Nixon administration in Watergate.
Exposing Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator beginning the Me Too movement.
And from as early as the Crimean War sending your stories home, exposing the horrors of war and the bravery of soldiers. And contributing to the creation of the Victoria Cross.
And right now, again, our media is shaping our future.
I have watched and read those brave, passionate voices who are standing against Hamas and calling out antisemitism.
Highlighting the 1,353% per cent rise in antisemitism in London alone.
Spotlighting the 4 Jewish schools that shut.
Decrying the fact that children going to Jewish schools have been advised not to wear their blazer to prevent them from becoming a terrorist target
Pointing out the disturbing scenes at the airport in Dagestan.
Calling out the denial by some, of the atrocities, carried out by a terrorist group.
Calling out the tearing down of posters of abducted children.
And your fact checked, legal proofed, thorough work…
Your truth telling.
Will make a difference to our future.
We only have to look back less than 100 years.
To what happened when conspiracy theories were rife, antisemitism the norm and no one in society called it out…
Because of this failure of society as a whole the German people were ready to accept the ‘annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe’ as Hitler infamously put it.
In 1941 Joseph Goebbels wrote that the fate the Jewish people were meeting was deserved and that no one should pity or regret it.
And most people didn’t bat an eyelid.
And your calling out matters not just to the Jews. But to all of us in this room. And beyond.
Because it is well known that when there is prejudice against any minority it should be a concern for all minorities.
Unfortunately the Jewish community knows what can come next.
Hitler didn’t just aim to wipe out the Jews, he targeted anyone who was gay, black or a traveller.
Your calling out matters because terrorist organisations like Hamas share the principles of terrorist organisations like al Qaeda and ISIS.
And they are no friends of the west.
Their hatred is not confined to Jews, or Israel. They hate all of us who share western values.
And Hamas’ actions in no way support or help the plight of the Palestinian people.
Who are also entitled to safety and to live in peace.
We are also seeing a worrying rise in anti-Muslim hatred
Terrorists use the media as a weapon of war.
Truth must prevail.
And for that, journalism matters.
Not just this week.
Today, Tomorrow. Next year. And every year after that.
I want to end with a message someone in Israel sent me last Monday.
It is a copy of a statement published by The Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Services and Israeli police summarising the result of the investigation into the massacre of over 1400 people on 7 October.
And, I quote…
The investigation revealed, following the interrogation of six terrorists who were captured that Hamas offered significant financial incentives to anyone who successfully kidnapped an Israeli with abductors promised $10000 and a free apartment.
The detainees stated that the instructions were to kidnap elderly women and children.
According to one detainee his commanders ordered the terrorists to behead Jews and rape women and girls.
Courage. Freedom. Truth.
Thank you for your role in our democracy.