Letters: It’s disheartening to see politicians misleading voters with fake newspapers

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Fake newspapers used by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats ahead of the Mid Bedfordshire 2023 by-election
Fake newspapers used by the Conservatives (top) and Liberal Democrats (bottom) ahead of the Mid-Bedfordshire 2023 by-election

As pressure grows for all political parties to stop using fake newspapers as campaign material, the chief executive of the independent press regulator Impress has written to Greg Hands, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and all other political parties to ask them to either halt what has been called a “deceitful” practice or seek regulation in the same way they expect local news publishers to do so.

Dear Greg Hands,

Trust in journalism has reached a crisis point. Our research shows that less than half of the public trust news publishers, while journalists themselves are trusted by just 38% of the public; politicians are one of the few jobs to rank lower.

For democracy to flourish, it is essential that we have a thriving, healthy and trusted news media ecosystem. To achieve this, collaboration and transparency is needed between news organisations, the public and politicians.

It is entirely disheartening then to see the latter groups continuing to engage in the practice of distributing campaigning materials under the guise of local newspapers, misleading voters into believing what they are reading is the work of local journalists from independent publications.

Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana, CEO Impress. Image: Impress
Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana, CEO Impress. Image: Impress

Often, these are accompanied by either no clarification of their actual purpose or by only the smallest clarifying statements.

We are therefore asking that the Conservative Party, and all political parties, carefully review this practice among their candidates moving forward and the negative impact it will have on politics, journalism, and democracy.

If you do insist on continuing to produce these materials, we implore you to seek out rigorous and independent press regulation for them to ensure they meet robust standards.

Yours,

Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana
CEO, Impress

Note: The Bedford Independent is proud to follow to be regulated by Impress and follow their standards code. We support Impress and all other organisations and publishers in the campaign to ban the use of fake newspapers by politicians.

If you would like to write a letter to respond to any issues raised,
please email 
letters@bedfordindependent.co.uk

 
 
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