Political Leaders Back Local Press Industry Ahead of Local Newspaper Week

Party leaders from across the political spectrum have given their strong backing to highly trusted local newspapers and local journalism for Local Newspaper Week which started on Monday. 

Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron have all written articles in support of local press which will be published in hundreds of local papers tomorrow. 

Hundreds of local papers are running the Fighting Fake News campaign highlighting the highly trusted credentials of local newspapers in advance of LNW.  

As part of the activity, local papers are holding a Trusted News Day tomorrow which will see papers open up their newsrooms to readers and host interactive events inviting readers to quiz editors and journalists on how trusted local journalism is produced.

Celebrities Ed Balls and Ben Fogle have also come out in support of local papers with messages of support for the local press industry.

In an article former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls writes: “During my time as an MP, I saw first-hand how local papers underpin the democratic process at a local level, whether through holding local councils to account, conducting investigations to expose wrongdoing or reporting on the courts.

“Like journalism, politics is fundamentally local and no-one understands local affairs better than the journalists who cover those communities. And, perhaps most importantly, local newspaper readers know that their local paper is on their side and they trust what they read in its pages.”

In his piece, adventurer Ben Fogle said: “Local newspapers and their millions of readers are part of the fightback against fake news. By producing high quality, trusted local journalism, local papers actively counter the misinformation and falsehood which can spread so rapidly through other channels.

“Through their reporting and campaigning, local papers hold councils and other public and private institutions to account, underpinning democracy at a local level. They promote good causes and speak out on behalf of their readers on the issues that matter when they have nowhere else to turn.

“And, as Making a Difference demonstrates, local newspaper campaigning delivers real, tangible results.”

In addition writing articles for LNW, Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both came out in support of the Fighting Fake News campaign on separate trips to York as part of their election campaigning this week. 

Asked by The Press in York to support the campaign, Mrs May said:  “We all recognise that it’s important when people are reading the news what we want for them to see is an accurate reflection of the news and accurate reporting.

“I think a lot of people put great store by their local newspapers with trained journalists actually out there faithfully reporting what is happening in their local area. I think we should support that.”

“One of the important pillars of our democracy is that we do have a free press in this country. But also we see a press that takes responsibility for how it reports news and that’s important to us. 

“For a lot of people, they do look to their local press because they have a lot of faith and trust in their local papers.”    

Mr Corbyn told The Press that he gave his full support to the Fighting Fake News campaign. “Journalism at its best hold public officials to account, represents the concerns of the public  and reports real news,” he said. 

“The danger of social media fake news is really, really serious. Somebody can make up an incident that didn’t happen or can accuse somebody of something they didn’t do and it gains huge currency on social media in a way at a local paper couldn’t because of laws of libel and journalistic standards. 

“We have to remind everyone on social media the same standards should apply. If you are running a story, source it. If you are quoting somebody, be sure it’s accurate. if you are accusing somebody of it, remember, there’s a presumption of innocence on everyone until they are proven guilty.”      

And in his piece for LNW, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said that trusted local newspaper journalism becomes even more critically important in the run up to the general election.

He writes: “In the run up to the general election, it is essential for people to be able to access trustworthy information and make well-informed decisions. By investing in high quality local journalism, local newspapers enable and support this process which underpins democracy.”

Tim Farron

Organised by Local Media Works, the local marketing arm of the News Media Association, Fighting Fake News has seen hundreds of local papers highlight their highly-trusted credentials through features, news stories, infographics and videos.

In a piece published in regional and local newspapers including the Yorkshire Post today former war correspondent and MP Martin Bell writes about the importance of highly trusted newspaper journalism.  

“I believe that our newspapers are worth fighting for against the trend of the times. They are the mainstream press. Their reports are fact-based. They provide real news, not fake news. They offer shared experiences. And at the regional and local level they bind our communities together. My own belief is that the present storm will pass.

“This newspaper is not only a business but a public service. It has a proud tradition. It has a loyal readership. It belongs to its readers in a way that no fly-by-night website can hope to achieve.

“The relationship is a special one. We must not only read our newspapers but support them. Nor should we take them for granted: for if we take them for granted we can easily lose them.” 

Fighting Fake News will run through LNW during which the public are voting for their favourite local newspaper campaign from a showcase of 28 powerful Making a Difference campaigns.