Prime Minister David Cameron and his entourage have received further criticism from regional press industry figures over the treatment of local journalists at election campaign events.
As reported by HTFP yesterday, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner splashed on its political reporter Joanne Douglas and photographer Andrew Catchpool being treated with “disdain” during a visit by the PM to its patch on Thursday.
And the Nottingham Post has revealed it was prevented from asking Mr Cameron questions it had tabled for him 24 hours prior to his visit to Nottinghamshire on Thursday morning.
The Nottingham Post reported: “The Post was asked by Mr Cameron’s team to send three questions almost 24 hours in advance that we planned to ask him.
“But on the day, only one question was allowed, and one of the Prime Minister’s aides stopped us from discussing more local details.
“For example, we were stopped from asking about the target to see 95 per cent of patients in four-hours, which has not been met by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust in months, and about the ‘internal incident’ that was called in January because of winter pressures.
“We were also stopped from asking about the £23m of the ‘Better Care Fund’ allocated to Nottinghamshire, as local experts say £100m more is needed for south Nottinghamshire alone.”
Last May Mr Cameron offered his support to Local Newspaper Week, praising the regional press for its “commitment to campaigning on local issues”.
The reports have prompted David Higgerson, digital publishing director for Trinity Mirror, to offer a warning to high-profile politicians who are generating “the wrong local headlines” in the run up to 7 May.
David, who earlier this month described the upcoming General Election as a “huge opportunity” for the regional press, wrote on his blog: “Cameron, it would seem, doesn’t seem to get it. I’ve heard similar stories about Chancellor George Osborne too.
“Local newspaper brands now reach far more local people than any other media, and more people than they have reached for probably the last 30 years,” he wrote.
“Treating local journalists with contempt seems an odd way to get your message across. For a man whose background is in PR, this Prime Minister seems to be very good at generating the wrong local headlines.”
The Conservative Party had previously come under fire from the Milton Keynes Citizen about its controversial ‘Big Brother-style’ media accreditation policy, implemented ahead of the campaign.
No one from the party has yet responded to HTFP’s request for a comment on the visits.