Archbishop to attack news media

London, England - The news media is often "adversarial and suspicious" and uses practices that are "lethally damaging" to journalism, the Archbishop of Canterbury is to say.

Dr Rowan Williams will argue a far-reaching review is needed to raise "embarrassingly low levels of trust" in the journalistic profession.

He will criticise the stance by some media "that any kind of concealment is guilty until proved innocent".

He is due to address media, politicians and church leaders in London.


Dr Williams will acknowledge that a thriving media is vital to a "mature democracy".

However, he will criticise the way news is packaged as a product to be presented to consumers.

"There is a tension at the heart of the journalistic enterprise," he will argue in his address on Wednesday.

"Its justification is that it promises to deliver what other sources can't - information that is needed to equip the reader or viewer or listener for a more free and significant role as a human agent.

"But at the same time it is bound to a method and a rhetoric that treats its public as consumers and the information it purveys as a commodity."


In his speech, he will praise the courage and commitment of many journalists, but add that "some aspects of current practice" are "lethally damaging" to the profession.

"High levels of adversarial and suspicious probing send the clear message that any kind of concealment is guilty until proved innocent.

"That is a case that needs more than just assumptions to be morally persuasive."

More consideration of what stories are in the public interest is called for, Dr Williams is to say.

But he will add that to some extent societies get the media they deserve and the industry should not be made a scapegoat.