Today is the start of Journalism Matters Week, the annual News Media Association campaign to highlight the importance of trusted news.

The campaign will focus this year on the rise of AI and the critical importance of trusted journalism to combat misinformation as political parties gear up for a likely general election next year.

Opening the week, News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith explains more about its aims while on Wednesday the Hereford Times and its team of journalists will be revealing more about their work and the positive contribution it makes to Herefordshire's communities.

At the inaugural AI safety summit hosted by the UK at Bletchley Park this week, global leaders will be tasked with considering the risks posed by this rapidly advancing technology and how nation states act together to address challenges that cross national borders.

In doing so, we can also celebrate the huge human technological advances that have enabled the development of AI – presenting us all with enormous opportunities.

The power of AI technology to accelerate the production and dissemination of mis and dis information is not on the summit’s formal agenda. But with national elections happening in the UK, US, and Europe next year, this threat to democracy is real.

More than ever, we need trusted sources of information such as news brands to counteract the onslaught of false information and enable us make sense of the complex world we live in today.

That’s why data out later this week which is expected to show huge audiences for local news media is so important. People are rightly hungry for authoritative sources of news and information – we must continue to ensure that supply matches demand.

Hereford Times:

Next year’s general election will see 650 constituencies elect a local MP. That’s 650 local battles that will determine the future of our country. Six hundred and fifty individual elections that could be influenced by AI-generated false information.

AI offers an opportunity to newsrooms by automating less important tasks. The technology can free up journalists to devote their energies to the incredible scoops and investigations for which our news sector is rightly known across the world.

A free press, holding power to account and asking the awkward questions of powerful people is fundamental to our democracy. AI has the opportunity to enhance, or destroy, this mission.

As a regulatory framework is developed, it is critical that governments and regulators understand the importance of protecting our media sector from the harmful effects of this technology. AI cannot be allowed to use news publishers’ content in any way without their express consent.

This means developing robust tools enabling publishers to fully protect their IP - the fuel that powers their businesses and enables them to invest further in journalism – from being exploited by third parties.