Archbishop of Canterbury tells journalism students that journalists are 'indispensable' in a free society

Journalists are “indispensable” to modern day Britain, helping to keep our society free, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said.

The Church of England’s chief religious figure preached the importance of freedom of the press on a visit to Canterbury Christ Church University’s journalism course.

Interviewed by students, Welby said: “In most of the countries where Anglicans live… there is no freedom of the press, or the press is corrupted in one way or another. In many places people will be tortured, threatened, bribed – all of the above…

“What [journalists] do, is hold people to account and make sure we have a free society – there is nothing more important.

According to the non- profit group Reporters Without Borders, 182 journalists are currently imprisoned and four journalists have been killed worldwide since January this year.

Kent Messenger editor Denise Eaton agreed with the Archbishop’s comments, saying the role of the journalist was “indispensable”.

She said: “One of the main duties of the press is to hold power to account. We scrutinise and challenge much of the work conducted on behalf of the public and I’d be concerned if such a key component of local democracy was to be lost.

“I’m very much an advocate of holding authority to account, and long may this role – served by local media for hundreds of years – continue.”

Eaton also said that news stories impact communities, such as police misconducts and court proceedings.

She added: “How can we influence anything if we don’t know what’s going on? How can we effect change if we’re blind to what needs changing or challenging?

“We also ensure we cover police misconduct hearings, court trials, inquests and public hearings which all have an impact on our communities and the way justice is meted out.”

Picture: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

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