The News Media Association (NMA) has hit out at political parties for copying local newspapers in their election materials, saying that the move will damage the trust communities have in paid-for and other publications.

All three main political parties are said to have used local newspaper-style publications to push their message in the impending general election.

The move has drawn criticism for presenting political opinion as fact, with the NMA saying that it will “undermine and abuse” the relationship between readers and newspapers.

In an article that was published in a number of regional newspapers, NMA chairman David Dinsmore said: “Audiences could be led to believe that they are reading independent local news rather than party political content.

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“Or, they could see the charade for what it is – a cynical attempt by politicians to mislead the public. In both scenarios, trust in both politicians and local news media could be badly damaged as a result.”

The Liberal Democrat-created Mid Hampshire Gazette covers the area surrounding real title the Basingstoke Gazette.

Other fake newspaper brands – which were in fact created by political parties – include the North West Leeds & Wharfedale News, the Daily Press (South London), Carlisle Future and the Canterbury and Whitstable Gazette, a title which mirrors real local publication the Kentish Gazette.

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