2023 Jay Blumler Lecture with guest speaker Dorothy Byrne

Why Politicians Should Love Journalists - and Journalists Should Never Love Politicians

There used to be cross-party political agreement that public service broadcast journalism was a good thing. But the plan to privatise Channel Four, decision to terminate the BBC Licence Fee when the current agreement runs out and relentless attack on TV and radio journalists by Conservative politicians in recent times have all undermined that consensus, previously viewed by politicians of all parties as vital to protect democracy.

Channel Four has been saved from privatisation and its presence in Leeds will be given a huge boost. But the BBC licence fee model is still to be discarded with no viable alternative yet identified.  Also of potential concern is the government's proposal for strengthened oversight of impartiality. Are politicians trying to seize more direct control of what the public sees and hears?

Dorothy Byrne, long-time Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel Four, in which role she called the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson 'a known liar' now President of Murray Edwards College at Cambridge University, argues that strong journalism across broadcast and newspapers helped set politics in the UK right after the aberration of Johnson and Truss. She claims that the absence of those pillars of the fourth estate in democracies like India, Brazil and the US which don't have our system of independently regulated public service broadcasting are a major factor in putting those democracies at risk. And even the rightly much maligned right-wing press have played a role.

About the Jay Blumler Lecture
The annual Jay Blumler Lecture was set up in honour of Professor Jay G. Blumler, who played a central role in establishing media research in the UK. We were deeply saddened to announce Jay's passing on the 30th January 2021. This is an enormous loss for the University of Leeds, and one we know we share with Jay’s many friends, colleagues and loved ones around the world. Jay’s children have kindly opened a Student Hardship Fund for friends, colleagues and family who wish to make a donation in Jay’s memory. You can also leave memories and condolences at this online memorial.

Event Information
This is a free public event and all are welcome. There is no need to register, but please email Media Research Support (mediaresearchsupport@leeds.ac.uk) if you wish to attend (just so we have an idea of numbers for catering purposes), or for more information.