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Broadcaster issues rallying call for local press

A senior broadcaster made an impassioned speech highlighting the importance of local newspapers while guest-presenting at an annual awards ceremony.

GMTV presenter John Stapleton started his career at a local newspaper before going on to win national fame.

His rallying call for the local press came as he presented the community project prize at the South London Press’s Our Heroes awards – now in their tenth year celebrating the unsung champions of South London.

Urging people to “tell their friends” to go out and buy local newspapers, he said they were “crucial” to the future of democracy.

He said: “Local newspapers are a crucially important watchdog for us all. They are our last chance.

“They campaign on our behalf to get wrongs righted, and local papers have never been under such threat as they are now.

“So please, please, please, continue to support local papers – go out and buy them, tell your friends to buy them. They are a crucial part of our democracy.”

Mr Stapleton’s comments were heard by several senior politicians present at the South London bi-weekly’s awards ceremony, including deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and veteran Lib Dem Simon Hughes.

Editor Hannah Walker said: “The South London Press is giving ordinary people a voice, positive campaigning is just one part of our job.

“We have a vital role to play in our local democracy, without local papers a lot of decisions that are made by those in authority would go unquestioned and face it, some bad decisions are made.

“As a community newspaper we’ve worked with local people and seen fantastic victories for ordinary people willing to stand up for themselves and make a difference.”

The ceremony was held just days after the newspaper’s long-running battle for better mental health care saw NHS bosses back down over plans that would have reduced the level of service in Lambeth and Southwark.


Sheila Johnson (01/12/2009 09:50:30)
Well said John Stapleton. Local papers are also a great way of connecting with the local community. Without them increased isolation threatens.