Journalism matters: Newspapers key voice in communities, MPs agree

For well over a century, the Express & Star has played a pivotal role in holding the powers that be to account.

Gavin Williamson is often interviewed by our political editor, Peter Madeley, and understands the importance of local newspapers
Gavin Williamson is often interviewed by our political editor, Peter Madeley, and understands the importance of local newspapers

Whether it is grilling MPs on the impact of ministerial decisions on our region, or taking local councillors to task over how public money is being spent, this newspaper always aims to get to the bottom of every story.

This has certainly been the case in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. And when it comes to analysing the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Express & Star has led the way.

Politicians across the Black Country and Staffordshire have praised the importance of this newspaper in reporting accurate news. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the South Staffordshire MP, has had more experience than most when it comes to scrutiny from the media.

He said: “Newspapers, particularly local newspapers, are often the key voice in communities. They can often be the instrument to make things happen and direct change. That is so incredibly important, particularly in an era when news can spread so quickly, but when it is not always accurate. In such circumstances high-quality local journalism has become even more vital. Newspapers have always changed events, both in local government and national government, and that’s why it is so important to have newspapers such as the Express & Star.

“If you look at the times we are in currently, dealing with the pandemic, knowing that the Express & Star is here which can report fairly, accurately and truthfully, so people know what is going on and how they need to respond, has become even more important.”

Pat McFadden, the Shadow City Minister and Wolverhampton South East MP, said the Express & Star played a “vital role in local life”.

“It is part of how we see ourselves and our local area,” he added. “I am always struck by how even the smallest story in terms of space is widely read. Local papers are an important vehicle for holding politicians to account but also a way for MPs and other public agencies to communicate with people about what we are doing and why. Of course, as with all papers, I don’t always agree with what I read in it but I am clear about its central and valuable role in the local community.”

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Philip Dunne, whose Ludlow constituency covers Claverley and Bridgnorth, said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the role local newspapers played.

“Throughout this time, the local papers have been a valuable source of information and played an important service in helping people know how to look after themselves and get access to local services, and to help other people,” he said.

“The local media continues to report on local government matters in a way that social media and other outlets don’t as a rule, and that is very important.

“Local politicians, MPs and councillors included, can both use the local media to bring their activities to local attention, and are also held to account by local journalists and residents, through news reports and the letters pages.”

This newspaper also has a crucial role to play in recording court proceedings.

In the past 12 months we have covered hundreds of cases and trials, ranging from thefts, robberies and burglaries, to fraud, arson and murder.

Every week our journalists are present at courts across the region ensuring that not only is justice done, but that it is seen to be done.

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