A regional daily editor has become the latest to defend his newspaper’s neutrality after more regional press titles ran front page wraparound advertisements for the Conservatives.
The News, Portsmouth, was one of a number of papers across the country to run the wrap endorsing the Tories – but editor Mark Waldron told readers he wanted to make it “quite clear” that his title did not support any political party.
The advert in question features a picture of Theresa May and urges readers to “vote for the best person to negotiate Brexit for Britain”.
Last month a front page ad endorsing the Tories was run by many local titles, and led news chiefs including Newsquest group managing editor for South London and Sussex Andy Parkes, Exeter Express & Echo editor Jim Parker and Devon Live editor Patrick Phelvin to issue statements reaffirming their titles’ commitment to editorial neutrality.
The latest Tory wrap appeared on the front of Thursday’s edition of The News.
In his editorial inside the paper, Mark wrote: “Having got this far you will have spotted that we are carrying an advertisement ‘wrap’ for the Conservative party today. This four-page advert has been purchased and paid for by the Conservatives, something they or any legitimate party is entitled to do as part of their election campaign.
“They have placed similar ads in newspapers across the country as a means of getting their message across to the electorate. Let me make it quite clear, this newspaper does not support any political party. We support or challenge politicians and political parties based on the decisions they make and not the colour of their rosettes. This has not changed with today’s wrap.
“Political parties have long held to the belief that they value a strong, independent press as vital to local democracy. Advertising is the lifeblood of that free and independent press.
“By placing their advertising with us, they are helping to support the continuation of a vibrant local media. I know that some readers might be surprised to see such a prominent political advertisement from one party — but it is simply that, an advertisement from that party. It does not in any way imply that we either endorse the party or its message.”