In his occasional column about journalism, Hereford Times editor John Wilson condemns attempts to organise an advertisers boycott of GB News

BOTH news and comment – when it is published on legitimate, accountable platforms rather than the wild west of social media – has to be paid for.

There is a cost because publishing systems have to be bought, and the trained professionals who produce content for them have to be paid.

As a state broadcaster the BBC is in the privileged position of getting a guaranteed income from the licence-payer. But others, such as newspapers, websites and independent broadcasters, earn their keep from a variety of sources. Chiefly, though, it comes from advertising.

And that is something a movement called Stop Funding Hate has identified as a weakness it can exploit. These campaigners, to put it bluntly, want to silence those publishers whose output offends them.

They do so by pressurising firms who advertise with them, seeking to choke off their very lifeblood.

To date, tabloid newspapers have been the main target of Stop Funding Hate. But now GB News, the new right-leaning 24-hour news television channel, has fallen foul of these zealots.

Already they are celebrating the revelation that some major organisations are re-considering supporting GB News.

Stop Funding Hate is well-meaning, but its tactics are dangerously misguided.

By seeking to deny the right of free speech to those whose views it finds disagreeable it undermines one of our greatest freedoms, and gives succour to the advocates of censorship and oppressive regulation.

Anyone who values free speech should be wary of the sanctimonious cheerleaders of Stop Funding Hate. Their attempts to stifle GB News within days of its launch are odious and undemocratic.