Today is the start of Local Newspaper Week (May 15-21), which celebrates the role of trusted local newspapers in their communities and, through Making a Difference, their unique ability to campaign for real change which improves people’s lives.
Run by Local Media Works, the local marketing arm of the News Media Association, the annual LNW sees hundreds of local newspapers across the UK join forces to shout about the industry’s unique strengths.
To celebrate local newspapers’ campaigning successes, 28 powerful campaigns from the past year have been shortlisted for the Making a Difference award which will be decided by an online public vote.
Each of the campaigns are strong examples of how daily and weekly local newspapers benefit their communities by getting behind a worthy cause which matters to their readers. Whether it’s a fundraising drive to raise cash for families hit by floods, or a campaign against cuts to local public services, local papers deliver real results for the communities they serve. And no other media can do this.
The Making a Difference campaigns this year include Johnston Press’ Drive For Justice to highlight the scandal of lenient sentences.
There is also No One Should Have No One campaign by our sister paper the Shields Gazette, in which scores of people signed up to volunteer for Age UK after reading about the bid in late 2015 to end loneliness across South Tyneside.
Also included is a successful drive to provide badly needed help for a seven-year-old girl who suffers from Jacobsen Syndrome. Her family needed to move to a suitable new home that was specially-adapted to meet her needs.
Another shortlisted campaign was sparked by the revelation that a specialist cancer scanner had lain idle for almost 18 months while a decision about its location was being reached. The local newspaper campaigned successfully for it to be brought back into use.
Other powerful campaigns include the highlighting of lenient dangerous driving sentences and another rallied readers to donate food, toys and cash to help people who were struggling and using food banks over Christmas.
The Making a Difference vote will stay open until 5pm on Wednesday (17 May) and the winner will be announced at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards on Friday (May 19).
Political leaders Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron have all lent their support to LNW and their messages, which will be published later this week, celebrate the industry’s essential democratic role in the lead up to the general election on 8 June.
The leaders note that through local newspapers, which are read in print and digital by 40 million people each week, people are able to access trustworthy information and make well-informed decisions. By investing in high quality local journalism which holds power to account local newspapers help to underpin democracy.
This year, LNW follows directly on from the local media industry’s Fighting Fake News campaign which saw hundreds of local press titles join forces to highlight how local papers fight fake news through their investment in highly trusted local media journalism. The campaign highlighted how local news brands, in print and online, offers readers and advertisers a highly-trusted environment free from the risks associated with other platforms.
On Friday (May 12), as part of this activity, the industry held a Trusted News Day which saw local papers across the UK open up their newsrooms to readers through interactive initiatives such as live blogs and Q&As, to show how their trusted content is produced.
LNW unashamedly seeks to shout about what trusted local newspapers contribute to our society. We hope that you will join us in this celebration of local democracy, freedom of speech, and the importance of highly trusted local newspaper journalism.