The author George Orwell once wrote that: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

During a time when public relations ‘content’ filters into our news more than ever before in an effort to bend our view to a certain way of thinking, his words have never been more poignant.

This week is Journalism Matters week, an initiative designed to highlight the important role of local newspapers in democratic society.

As most people know, there’s never been a harder time to work in the news industry. The internet has blown apart the traditional revenue model of newspapers, and in an era where most people get their news online, print titles have had to find new ways of supporting journalism while the advertising revenues which papers once relied on to fund their newsrooms have increasingly been hoovered up by the new media platforms over at Google and Facebook.

This shift has seen a quarter of all local newspaper titles in the UK shut down, and there are 6,000 fewer journalists in newsrooms up and down the country.

So why does that matter, and why should anyone apart from reporters and photographers concerned about their jobs be worried?

The national tabloid press sold a lot of copies but made few friends during the print industry’s heyday through the seventies, eighties and nineties, and local newspapers have often been tarred with the same brush of ‘sensationalism’, sometimes fairly, but mostly not.

County Times:

Newspapers like the County Times have strived to report local stories that affected their readers for over one hundred years, with a small team of properly trained reporters who care about their local area, paid for by you, the reader, with a cover price.

We go to courtrooms, council meetings, openings and closures and everything in between, telling the stories from our area like no-one else can.

Social media is free and instant - but a Facebook algorithm cannot ask a politician an awkward question about a policy that has negatively affected their constituents, a Google adword cannot listen to someone’s story, research their point of view and produce a case for resolving their injustice.

Do we always get it right? Of course not, although we do work very hard not to get it wrong. Do we miss things? Sure, although of course our readers do a great job of telling us if we have so we can get straight onto a story if it’s slipped through the net.

Newspapers have changed unrecognisably in the past decade, and will continue to do so for some time to come. But what will never change is a reporter’s commitment to good, honest reporting.

So thank you, dear County Times reader, for supporting the beleaguered cause of local journalism. I don’t know what newsrooms will look like in a hundred years time, or even if they will exist as we currently know them. But I do know that unless they are staffed with reporters and photographers who care about the people they represent, the news stories they create will not be worth the ink, or pixels, they are rendered with.