The Society of Editors says it has vowed to call out fake newspapers and “name and shame” parties and candidates who continue to attempt to mislead voters by distributing campaign material disguised as local newspapers during upcoming elections.
The decision comes after the Liberal Democrats have come under fire in recent weeks for distributing fake “titles” including the Hallamshire Herald in Sheffield and Wokingham Focus in Berkshire and the Conservative Party was criticised last year for using the name of the defunct ‘Lincoln Chronicle’ title to communicate with residents in Lincoln as well as fictional titles such as the 'Stroud, Valleys and Vale Chronicle' (pictured).
Looking to upcoming elections including an anticipated General Election later this year, the executive director of the Society of Editors has spoken out and said that it will call out parties and candidates who continue to use this practice.
She said: “The Society of Editors has long campaigned against political parties using fake newspapers to promote their candidates in election periods. Not only does this absurd practice damage democracy and undermine public trust in both politics and the news media, but it is also insulting to the electorate who are not stupid and expect officials and candidates to communicate with them in an open and transparent manner.
“Ahead of elections later this year including a General Election, we have written to representatives of all political parties urging them to put an end to this mimicry as well as vowing to name and shame those who continue to attempt to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.
“The news media plays a vital role in a democracy, and, during election periods, journalists are essential in helping to communicate party policies to the public. Instead of employing vast time and effort into brazen deception, parties should instead look to highlight and promote the work of the actual local press as a trusted source of news and information to the public.”
The Society says the issue of fake newspapers and political reporting ahead of the General Election will be discussed at its upcoming 25th anniversary conference taking place in London on 30 April 2024 in London. Booking is now open and more information can be found online.Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.