Recession eroding British press standards: charity

Mon Feb 9, 2009 9:21am EST
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The quality of journalism in British newspapers is declining and more mistakes are being made as editors sacrifice standards to keep up sales during the recession, an independent media charity said on Monday.

A review by the Media Standards Trust (MST), compiled in consultation with industry experts, said there was growing public cynicism about papers' reliability and about intrusive behavior which would only get worse in the economic downturn.

It concluded that Britain's system of press self-regulation was no longer able to cope with the situation.

Research by the MST found that public faith in journalists, which was already very low, was getting worse.

Only 7 percent of people trusted newspapers to behave responsibly while 75 percent thought papers "frequently publish stories they know are inaccurate."

It is not only tabloids that are suffering.

A 2003 survey found 65 percent of people trusted journalists on "upmarket" papers, such as the Times or the Guardian but a 2008 poll found this had dropped to just 43 percent, according to the review, whose panel members included Martin Dickson, the Financial Times's Deputy Editor and Simon Kelner, Editor in Chief of the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

With newspapers battling declining circulation and revenues, growing demand for sensationalist scoops had led to greater intrusion into people's privacy, the report said.   Continued...