Local newspapers are at the heart of their local communities, acting as the public’s watchdog, activist and guardian, and playing a vital role in underpinning local democracy.
Local papers give their readers a voice, empowering them to bring about real change. This is often achieved through campaigning. Local papers are in a unique position to listen to the concerns of their readers, pinpoint the issues that matter to them, and galvanise support for a particular cause.
Digital technology has given the industry new platforms on which to do this important work. Through social media, a local newspaper campaign can get results within a matter of hours. Digital doesn’t replace the power and impact of a printed front page, it complements and enhances it.
Local newsbrands are reaching more people than ever before - 40 million people read a local paper in print or online every week. And many of these people are actively engaging with their local newspaper and the issues being covered.
This engagement is not surprising when you consider how deeply most people care about their local community. Life is local – research shows that nine out of 10 people spend the majority of their time and money within five miles of home and they’re proud of the area they live in.
Coordinated by Local Media Works, part of the News Media Association and the home of marketing for local newspapers and their digital platforms, Local Newspaper Week and the Making a Difference campaign are the local press industry’s annual celebration of this important work.
Some of the best campaigns from across the industry appear in the Making a Difference showcase of local newspaper campaigns. And the winner of a public vote to find the best campaign will be announced by News Media Association chairman Ashley Highfield at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards on Friday (20 May).
Making a Difference illustrates the diverse range of issues that local papers take up on behalf of their readers. Whether it is encouraging local firms to create apprenticeships to boost employment, cracking down on dangerous driving, or raising money for a child to receive specialist medical treatment, local papers are able to take up the issue and make a real difference.
These superb campaigns illustrate why local newspaper journalism is so important and relevant today. Local newspapers have a unique and powerful ability to make a difference to people’s lives that’s exactly what we are celebrating during this year’s Making a Difference and Local Newspaper Week.
Please also see our Contributors and Artwork sections.