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14 November 2019

Johnson Pledges Return Visit After Chad Accuses PM Of Local Press Snub  

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken of the importance of local press after the weekly Chad newspaper accused the Prime Minister of fobbing off local media during a visit to the area.

In a piece last week, The Chad said a visit by the Prime Minister to a local hospital was “poorly managed” with local press relegated to the “back of the queue” behind national media.

National media were given a tour of the hospital and 30 minutes in a room with Mr Johnson, while regional press were given less than five minutes, split between three outlets, and one question each, the Chad reported.

After the critical piece was published, the Prime Minister issued a statement pledging to return to the area and answer questions.  

The Prime Minister said: “Local papers are so important for our communities, and The Chad is clearly incredibly valued locally.

"I can’t wait to get back up to Derbyshire [sic] and speak to them at greater length about my plan to deliver Brexit and unite the country to deliver the first rate public services we all rely on."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also commented about the importance of local newspapers during the election trail.

He said: "On my frequent visits to North Notts, I’ve always been happy to sit down for an interview with The Chad.

"Every politician should speak to local papers when they can. It’s not only about being held to account but you also learn a lot about the issues facing people.”

New Statesman political correspondent Patrick Maguire wrote that the initial failure to engage with local press suggested the lessons of the previous election campaign by Theresa May had not been learned.

He said: “The Chad, understandably, ran a lengthy piece detailing their shabby treatment at the hands of the Conservative campaign operation. It was reminiscent — eerily so — of stories run by the Plymouth Herald and Cornwall Live in the 2017 campaign, both of whose journalists were given similarly derisory treatment by Team May. 

As I wrote on Friday, the local air war matters in marginal constituencies. Regional journalists have no qualms about kicking up a fuss when promised access does not materialise, as the Chad did so effectively. Failure to engage with the local press can very quickly become a national story. In May’s case, it reinforced perceptions that she was aloof, unempathetic, robotic.

“None of the significance of this has been lost on Conservative candidates locally, at least one of whom complained to CCHQ in the aftermath of Friday’s visit. Yesterday, Johnson pledged to return for a proper interview. The tone of his statement could reasonably be described as grovelling.”