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Newspapers embrace celebration of local press

Regional newspapers up and down the country have been taking part in Local Newpaper Week, which came to an end yesterday.

The event, run by the Newspaper Society, celebrates the work carried out by the industry on a day-to-day basis, and was marked in a variety of inventive ways by much of the regional press.

Features included charting each stage of the production process of a newspaper, from planning to delivery, introducing staff to the readers and looking back at successful campaigns from the past year.

The Western Morning News took a detailed look back at the history of the paper from 1860 when it was founded, to the present day, and journalist Janet King examined how newspapers can generate a sense of community.

Meanwhile the Coventry Evening Telegraph actually went out into the community as staff from the paper travelled around in a centenary van to meet readers and hand out goodies.

Several newspapers also gave their readers the opportunity to get in on the act, with the Daily Post in North Wales inviting one reader to be guest editor for the day and the Bournemouth Daily Echo challenging budding writers to pen their own column for the paper.

Six of the best will then be published on a one-off basis every day for a week.

The event, and the important role local newspapers play in their communities, was also recognised in the House of Commons.

MP Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, tabled an Early Day Motion which has so far been signed by 38 MPs.

The motion said: “This House recognises the important role which local newspapers play in the life of their communities; congratulates The Newspaper Society for launching ‘Local Newspaper Week'; notes that the regional press is read by 40 million people every week; acknowledges that local newspapers are more trusted than national newspapers; and calls on those who own and work on the 1,300 daily and weekly newspaper titles to promote high journalistic standards of accuracy, fairness, honesty and objectivity.”

And Tony Blair and Prince Charles also sent their messages of support for the industry.

The Prime Minister said: “The best of our local papers – and there are many, many examples covering from our biggest cities to our most rural areas – play a vital role in reflecting and building the unique character and values of the community they serve.

“All politicians recognise the importance of local newspapers to them and their communities. They know local papers are more trusted than any other media because you are much closer to your readers who hold you to account for what you publish.

“Campaigning and effective local papers also help us do our jobs better, ensuring we don’t lose sight of the issues that matter. They help, too, hold us to account for what we do and what we don’t.

“It’s part of the reason why healthy local papers are so important both to a healthy democracy and vibrant communities.”

Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or
e-mail pastill@nep.co.uk