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News-style content from political campaigns getting big views

Last Updated May 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm EDT

A tactic used by Donald Trump to combat so-called “fake news” is being used by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives for the provincial election.

A PC staffer, who works on Doug Ford’s campaign, appears in the role of a reporter in an online campaign page, complete with a microphone, news flash, interviews and a voice-over. The videos are racking up views on Facebook, including the one seen below, topping out at over 20,000 views.

Trump’s daughter-in-law has been┬ádelivering anchor-style news reports on his Facebook page since he was elected. It’s called the “real news update,” framed to be the antithesis of what Trump calls the “fake news media.”

However, this type of campaign tactic has not been seen in Canadian politics until now.

Amanda Galbraith, a campaign strategist, said it is a smart political tactic that we will likely see more of from other campaigns.

Ford’s team just happens to be first.

“What it is is them delivering their message directly to their voters,” she said. “If you think about their voter, they are more likely to be critical or be suspicious of the media than a Liberal voter or an NDP voter. So this is them taking advantage of it. They’re online, on digital, not watching TV as much anymore and delivering news directly with their way, their voice.”

According to journalism professor Nicole Blanchett Neheli, this means traditional media no longer has a monopoly on news.

“One of the things news organizations are going to have to accept is that the ship has sailed in terms of controlling information and being the only ones using this type of format,” she said. “Anyone who wants to can create this type of content. The bigger issue for journalists is how best to ensure the sharing of good information.”

CityNews spoke with Doug Ford’s war room strategist, Melissa Lantsman, about these reporter-style ads.

She said they are meant to “make sure” the voters see their events.

When asked why a campaign staffer was masquerading as a reporter, she said, “We don’t see it that way.”

CityNews sent Elections Ontario a link to one of these “news-style” videos and they said it did not violate any election legislation regulated by them.