Impress Chief Executive Officer Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana has written to representatives of major political parties alerting them to the danger of disguising campaigning materials as legitimate newspapers.
In her letter to politicians, Kirkconnell-Kawana says: “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.
“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.”
Letters were sent to the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the SNP, Sinn Fein, the DUP and Plaid Cymru.
Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.