Local papers still make a difference. Vote for the best
When we talk about campaigning journalism we tend to think of big papers and big issues - the Sunday Times on thalidomide, the Guardian on Snowden.
The community bus service and lost family photographs are unlikely to wind up in the High Court or attract the attention of the Government. But they matter to someone, and show how little papers, too, can campaign to make a difference.
The Newspaper Society today invites people to vote for the best of 30 local paper campaigns, and the winner will be announced at the Regional Press Awards presentations on Friday.
The shortlisted papers cover the spectrum from a weekly with a circulation of 3,000 to regional dailies selling more than 80,000 a night. The biggest of the bunch is D.C. Thomson's Sunday Post in Scotland, which many might regard as a national.
The big four groups account for more than half the campaigns nominated, with Johnston Press way out ahead with ten. Newsquest has four nominees, Trinity Mirror three and Local World one. There is one freesheet in there - the Camden New Journal - and five independents.
Between them, the 30 raised £3.6m for their various causes and collected more than 350,000 petition signatures.
Their campaigns ranged from helping individuals - a 39-year-old blind woman with multiple sclerosis who had spent three months in a geriatric ward was moved within a day after the local paper stepped in - to fighting for national institutions - the National Media Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry.
All this from a sector that we have come to believe is dying on its feet.
Remember these are just the 30 finalists. According to the Newspaper Society, there are 1,100 local papers in the UK, with a combined print readership of 30 million a week. They also run 1,700 websites that reach 20-odd million unique users a week. There seems still to be a market.
Long may it be so. Because local newspapers matter.
Voting for the best campaign is open until midnight on Wednesday.
Please do vote here.
In 1970, the Birmingham Evening Mail had a circulation of 400,000 and employed 113 journalists: 30 newsdesk and reporters, 25 district reporters, 23 news subs, 15 features staff, 20 sports staff and 9 photographers.
Those days are gone, but local papers still matter
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