Freedom is the key

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Every week millions of people read their local newspaper to find out what is going on in their community, be it online or in print.

The Northumberland Gazette is just one of those.

This week is Local Newspaper Week with the theme of press freedom, highlighting the importance for reporters to have the power to scrutinise authority and hold others to account.

People trust their local paper to report accurately and fairly on the issues that matter most to their lives.

Demand for local news and information has never been higher, with more people accessing it than ever before through printed local newspapers, their sister websites, smartphones and tablets.

As reporters, our job is to cut through the smokescreens, this is what press freedom truly means; our right to responsibly seek out the true facts on your behalf and present them in a fair, accurate and balanced way.

Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “We play a vital role in the community highlighting wrongdoing, getting to the truth of situations and campaigning for worthy causes.

“But we also give recognition for the tremendous amount of good that goes on in society.

“Reporters need to have freedom to do their job.

“We need to be able to question authority and expose corruption so that you, the public, get to read the true story.”

Former journalist and author of Wife in the North and A Year of Doing Good, Judith O’Reilly, who lives in north Northumberland said: “The row over press freedom can overshadow the amazing job local papers like the Gazette do.

“I was a journalist on a local paper for years, and I strongly believe that local papers have a vital role in a community.

“Papers like the magnificent Northumberland Gazette act as a voice for people who otherwise wouldn’t be heard.

“They acknowledge the effort of campaigners and the pain of those caught up in tragedies. They themselves campaign on issues that matter – shopping locally, potholes, parking, clean streets, standards in schools – issues that make a day-in, day-out difference to their readers.

“They are given respect and access; in return they have a huge responsibility to tell the truth of local life (and are rightly held accountable by their communities).

“The world is a better place for them.”