In the run up to Local Newspaper Week, we have joined forces with local and regional titles across the UK in a campaign to tackle fake news, and celebrate local journalism.
While Theresa May visited York Barbican to rally her candidates for the north of England, our colleagues at The Press - York’s daily newspaper - told her about the campaign and the importance of a free and trusted press.
She was asked for her views on our campaign, which warns people that at its worst, fake news is deliberately and maliciously contrived to deceive the public for political or financial gain, but more frequently it presents unsubstantiated rumour through social media, gaining undeserved authority through shares and likes, while comment becomes truth and satire is confused with reality.
The Prime Minister told The Press that the public had the right to expect accurate reporting and reflection of the news, and welcomed a campaign to promote the fight against fake news - which has become increasingly prominent on social media.
Mrs May said: “I think a lot of people set great store by their local newspapers with trained journalists, actually out there reporting what is happening, faithfully reporting what is happening in their local area.
“I think we should support that, and what you say about a free press, it’s 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 about 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.”
Her comments follow a similar show of support last week when on a visit to Eastbourne in Sussex - where she was born - Mrs May said: “We need to be very wary of this concept of fake news.
“We have got a situation with social media and different outlets where anybody can put something on social media site as if it’s real without anybody checking. People need to recognise that and recognise you can’t trust everything you see on social media.
“We know newspapers have a responsibility that they take seriously in terms of what they are reporting. A free press is a very important, it underpins our democracy. It’s also important for [politicians] to make sure the statements we make are upfront and transparent for people.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also voiced his support for the fight against fake news.