NUJ slams misleading Metro ads as “propaganda”

NUJ delegates at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference in Bournemouth have condemned the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for running a misleading PR campaign about Universal Credit.

The DWP campaign includes unbranded wraparound advertorials and features that promote Universal Credit but they are not clearly labelled as paid adverts and advertorial information. The first tranche of features appeared in some Metro newspapers yesterday, as the UN Rapporteur’s report on Poverty in the UK was released.

NUJ NEC representative Natasha Hirst said: “It is a gross injustice and an insult to all disabled people who have shared their stories and to the journalists who have ethically reported on them, for the DWP to dismiss and misrepresent the appalling impact of their damaging system of Universal Credit.

“The DWP campaign to disseminate inaccurate and misleading communications about the government’s Universal Credit system is funded by taxpayers’ money and in breach of the Government Communication Service propriety guidelines.”

Ann Galpin, chair of NUJ disabled members’ council and co-chair of the TUC disabled workers’ committee, said: “It is heartening to see wide support for NUJ members who face undue pressure from editors and managers to breach our own guidance on ethical reporting and content creation. It’s not 1984, attempts by the government to push out propaganda cannot go unchallenged.

“We are appalled that these misleading wraparounds and features have appeared in the Metro today, coinciding with the release of Philip Alston’s report on poverty in the UK, which heavily criticises austerity and welfare reform.”

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