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How the rich and powerful silence journalists




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Journalists should be free to report without fear or favour but, worryingly, rich and powerful people sue them into silence.

Journalists need to report on powerful people and institutions on matters of public interest. But their ability to do so is being threatened by prohibitively expensive lawsuits brought by the ultra-rich.

These lawsuits (the media outlets contend) are not aimed at using the court for justice; instead, they’re an attempt to intimidate journalists to stop them scrutinising and holding to account powerful people.

These lawsuits are called SLAPPs – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. The Government announced this summer they would introduce measures to counter these threats to media freedom.

The Media Society, supported by Byline Studios, invite you to join us for a panel discussion with people directly affected by SLAPPs and those who are campaigning on the issue.


Our panel

Catherine Belton - journalist of 'Putin's People'.

  • Belton is a Washington Post reporter specialising on Russia. She previously worked for the Financial Times and Reuters. In her award winning best-seller 'Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West', Belton explored the rise of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Belton faced a barrage of litigation from Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs after publishing this book.

James Ball -Global Editor, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

  • Global Editor, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism – which is currently facing what it says is a SLAPP suit from a UK company and a fund named for the former dictator Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

    James Ball is the global editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, where he oversees the not-for-profit's international reporting projects. He also works as a freelance writer and broadcaster, and is a weekly columnist for The New European.

    He was previously a special correspondent at BuzzFeed UK and special projects editor at The Guardian, where he played a key role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden.
    James is the author of multiple books, including "Post-Truth”, "Bluffocracy" and ”The System: who owns the internet and how it owns us”.

Susan Coughtrie - Deputy Director at the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC)

  • Susan Coughtrie co-chairs the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition. She also leads the Unsafe for Scrutiny project, which examines risks and threats to journalists investigating financial crime and corruption.

Our Chair  

Barney Jones

  • Barney Jones is currently a professor of journalism at City, University of London where he teaches courses on Reporting Politics. He created and ran The Andrew Marr Show which produced a news story from every single episode broadcast during the 10 years he ran the programme. Before this, he worked at the BBC on a range of current affairs and political programmes.


This event has been made possible with tech support from BylIne Times Studios.
We're grateful for their support.


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You Tube live stream starts at 6.00pm.

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