Local Newspaper Week: How we bring the news to you

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Demand for local news has never been higher.

Whether the information is accessed via the newspaper, website, mobile phone or tablet, people want to know what is happening on their doorstep and who is making the big decisions that affect their daily lives.

And for more than 100 years, hard-working journalists in Portsmouth have been sitting in council meetings, attending court cases, hitting the streets of our town centres, and attending charity fundraisers to bring you a diverse range of reporting.

As Local Newspaper Week begins today, The News will be celebrating the importance of having a local paper that is trusted, strives to highlight the best of our community, and asks the difficult questions that need answering.

Fundamentally, we aim to provide an interesting and informative experience, be it through words, pictures or video.

The theme this year is the good in the community that local newspapers help to achieve.

Campaigning to improve the lives of people in our communities has been a cornerstone of The News for decades.

Our campaigns have included helping to win recognition for the Arctic Convoys, helping to provide food for the homeless at Christmas, stamping out fly-tipping from our countryside, to name but a few.

This year the fight to save Portsmouth’s dockyard and hundreds of jobs has been paramount and we have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of the reporting every step of the way and trying to make a difference wherever we can.

Highlighting some of the most sensitive issues, such as the way mental health patients are treated or the struggle for survival for vital charities like Off The Record in Portsmouth, is another important aspect of The News’ role in our community.

This year, as our communities mark the centenary of the First World War and 70 years since D-Day, The News will be serving an important role in documenting the events and the stories of the people who gave their lives for our freedom.

Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, has been reading The News from a young age.

She says: ‘I was born in Portsmouth and The News has been a feature of my life since I was a kid.

‘I can’t imagine life without it. Because we have a daily paper, our area is richer for it.

‘We are so lucky to have a daily paper. It covers the issues that people are most concerned about.’

According to the Newspaper Society, local newspapers are more than twice as trusted as any other media channel.

The local press is the UK’s most popular print medium, read by 30m people a week.

Local media websites attract 79m unique users each month.

Some 11m people read a local newspaper but do not read a national newspaper.

One of the biggest successes of local journalism is being able to give a voice to people who may not otherwise have much of a say.

John Pickering, chairman of Rowlands Castle Parish Council, which successfully went up against the might of the multi-national Shell and won in a court case about an alcohol licence, says: ‘I consider local newspapers have an important role to play in identifying what’s really going on at a local level and communicating that.

‘Our communities would be worse without it.

‘They have a reporting role and a campaigning role.

‘Both roles are valuable to highlight “small people’s” or less powerful people’s side of the argument.’

Highlighting the great work being done in the community is another great benefit of local newspapers.

Over the past 18 months The News has followed the progression of Chaos Support, a new service provider set up by two mums that aims to transform the way people with learning disabilities are cared for and empower them to achieve more in life.

The service has transformed an old house in Havant into a thriving day centre.

Mum-of-two Kerry Whapshott, one of the founders, says: ‘The newspaper has definitely raised our profile.

‘Lots of people have approached us by reading about us in the paper.

‘We had an exercise where we dropped some sponsorship forms to the local community.

‘They all knew who we were and that’s because of the articles in the paper.’

Call answered from charity in crisis

IT was a charity in crisis with little hope of a future unless big things happened quickly.

The call went out for help and The News was able to rally support to keep the Rainbow Centre in Fareham afloat.

Since the £150,000 appeal was launched in March, more than £130,000 has flooded in to help save the charity, which cares for children with cerebral palsy and other motor skill problems as well as adults who have Parkinson’s disease or suffered a stroke.

Many people made one-off donations to the centre ranging from thousands of pounds to children giving their weekly pocket money.

Schools and clubs were also involved by doing dance-a-thons and dressing in rainbow colours.

Lara Bull, centre director, says: ‘We can safely say that with the support of our local papers and the local media we were able to put our crisis appeal on platform we could never dreamed of being on.

‘So many people have been made aware of it. It’s not just that it was supported once, the papers got the fact that it was an ongoing thing and kept the message out there.

‘Without a doubt, we would not be open if we did not have the support of the local media.’

She says as a busy mum reading a local newspaper IS a great way of learning about your local areas.

‘Our local paper provides a really important insight into what’s going on in your immediate area,’ says Lara.

Reporting a vicious attack that shocked readers

IT was a crime that shocked people to the core - and The News helped to bring justice to the devastated family.

Andrew Toseland, 51, went out to ask a gang of youths to be quiet outside his mum’s flat in Forton Road, Gosport.

He was brutally attacked, with Samuel Armstrong, 19, stamping on Mr Toseland’s head up to 15 times in the assault.

Mr Toseland was in an induced coma for two months and now needs 24-hour care.

The News reported the harrowing details of the court case and the five-year jail sentence for Armstrong - a punishment that was widely condemned for being too lenient.

After Mr Toseland’s family and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage were featured on the front page of The News calling for the sentence to be increased, the jail term was quashed in the Court of Appeal and replaced with a nine-year sentence.

Mr Toseland’s sister Michelle Yates said the sentence now ‘went some way to reflecting the crime committed’.

Mrs Dinenage says: ‘It’s so important to have a form of media which really has its feet on the ground locally and is able to fully understand and communicate with people the issues that are important to them and campaign on things that affect their daily lives.

‘Things like the Andrew Toseland case and the current campaign about increasing the minimum sentence for death by dangerous driving are just so important because they change lives and change outcomes.

‘For me that’s one of the most important outcomes of journalism - in terms of benefiting people and it can change lives.’

Local Newspaper Week

There are 1,100 local newspapers and 1,700 associated websites in the UK.

The local press is the UK’s most popular print medium, read by 30m people a week.

Local media websites attract 79m unique users each month.

Over 60 per cent of people act on the ads in local newspapers.

Seventy per cent of people spend half or more of their money within five miles of home.

Local newspapers are more than twice as trusted as any other media channel.

Eighty-five per cent of people spend half or more of their time within five miles of home.

The Newspaper Society website has more information about Local Newspaper Week




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