Press freedom is vital to democracy

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POLITICIANS across the board have united in praise of the Morpeth Herald as part of Local Newspaper Week.

The annual initiative aims to raise awareness of local newspapers and the important work they do in their communities.

This year’s campaign focuses on the importance of a free Press in underpinning local democracy, holding those in authority to account and scrutinising their actions.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman, whose constituency includes Ponteland, said: “Local newspapers like the Morpeth Herald are vital for local democracy.

“They not only keep local people informed, but they hold to account those in power. Be it the county council or MPs, it is our local newspapers which ensure that politicians are challenged on their record and the decisions they take.

“A strong and free Press is good for Britain and good for Northumberland. Long may it continue.”

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, whose constituency stretches to the north of Morpeth, also spoke of the important role of local newspapers.

He said: “Local newspaper editors and reporters are members of our local community, living alongside the people about whom they write. They know the people who appear in the papers they produce and understand local needs and desires. It is no wonder that local papers are trusted by their readers and generally held in much higher regard than their national counterparts.

“I know how much people rely on the Morpeth Herald to keep them informed about what matters in and around Morpeth and I hope that the Herald will have a long and successful future.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “A strong, vibrant and well-read newspaper is the very lifeblood of a local democratic community.

“The reporting of news has changed beyond all recognition in recent years, with 24-hour broadcasting and the development of the sort of modern technology that enables people to access the news whenever and wherever they want.

“However, given all the changes that are taking place, I believe there is still very much a place for good local newspapers such as the Morpeth Herald.

“Its depth of coverage of local news, issues and topics of interest, and even concern to people, remains unrivalled.

“People still look forward to reading their local paper. I can’t see that changing for the foreseeable future and long may it continue.”

Press freedom means our right to responsibly seek out the true facts on your behalf and present them in a fair, accurate and balanced way. Without this our democracy would be vulnerable to abuse.

Defending Press freedom is about defending our basic rights as citizens and we believe passionately that they are of fundamental importance to us all.

Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt, said: “A free and vibrant local Press is intrinsic to a free society. As we look to construct a new, independent, effective and robust Press regulatory structure, we should remember the already-high standards of local news reporting and resolve to ensure the new structure allows that work to continue to flourish.”