Prince of Wales: Local Papers Vital To Combat Fake News

The importance of trusted media sources like local newspapers “cannot be under-estimated” in the era of fake news and misinformation, the Prince of Wales has said in a message for Local Newspaper Week.

In a letter to local newspapers, Prince Charles said he was very encouraged by evidence local journalism was adapting to the digital age, with audiences for local news media “remaining strong.”

Prince Charles said: “In a rapidly changing media landscape, the advent of digital media has transformed the way we consume our news.  Despite this rapid change, I am very encouraged by the evidence that suggests that local journalism is adapting well and remains in robust health with audience numbers remaining strong across print and digital platforms.

“Indeed I am told by the News Media Association that, according to a recent survey, local newspapers remain the most trusted source of community news and information, ahead of all other media.  The importance of trusted media sources cannot be under-estimated in the era of so called ‘fake news’ and misinformation.” 

He continued: “As someone who appreciates the vital role played by local newspapers, for many years, I have enjoyed keeping in touch with local issues through such papers as the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the John O’Groats Journal, and the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard.

These papers, and hundreds like them around the country, highlight so many of the important aspects of local community life in a way that no other media could hope to do.  They offer an invaluable service which is why I wanted to lend my support to the recent Local Newspaper Week, now in its twentieth year.”

This year, actress and writer Rachel Shenton, who wrote and starred in the Oscar-winning short film The Silent Child, was among the supporters of LNW. In an article, she wrote about the importance of local papers as the antidote to fake news distributed via social media. 

She wrote: “Local journalism, trusted and accurate news information produced by local papers, is more important than ever before in the age of ‘fake news’ spread via social networks. We rely on trained local newspaper journalists to separate fact from fiction and get to the truth, even if powerful interests would rather it remained hushed up.” 

At the Regional Press Awards, the winner of the Making a Difference award was announced by News Media Association chairman David Dinsmore as The Cambs Times Sling the Mesh campaign.

Announcing the winner, Dinsmore said: “Local and regional journalism adds a huge amount of value to our society by scrutinising authority and holding the powerful to account.  In doing so, local news media can truly be said to support and promote democracy at a local level.

“Making a Difference celebrates the ability of local newspapers to campaign on the issues that matter to people and bring about real positive change for communities. The immense social value that we create is underpinned by the exceptionally high standards to which local journalists hold themselves.

“As well as the law of the land, our journalists adhere to the Editors Code of Practice and the robust self-regulatory framework of IPSO. All of this results in highly trusted local journalism with the power to make a difference. This is completely unique and we should be immensely proud of it.

“It is time to shout about this from the rooftops – as you have been doing during Local Newspaper Week – and time for a renewed confidence in what we do.” 

Local papers pulled out all the stops for this year’s LNW with celebrations including a #TrustedNewsDay in which papers invited readers to submit questions about how a local newsroom operates and highlighting their highly trusted credentials in their coverage.