Ed Balls Writes for Local Newspaper Week
Outside of the Westminster bubble, life is truly local. Local newspapers are central to local life and are being read by bigger audiences than ever before, reaching more than 95 per cent of British postcodes.
With its deep-rooted community links, local media campaigns for positive change in communities across the UK.
Notable campaigns showcased by Making a Difference this year include a campaign to raise money for local foodbanks, a drive to halt health services cuts, and a call for tougher sentencing for dangerous drivers.
During my time as an MP, I saw first-hand how local papers underpin the democratic process at a local level, whether through holding local councils to account, conducting investigations to expose wrongdoing or reporting on the courts.
As a politician, I engaged regularly with local journalists – both local reporters based in my constituency and political correspondents based in Westminster – and I still do.
In my role as chair of Norwich City FC, I speak regularly with the local media which so often is the first port of call for fans looking for the latest news about their club.
Football clubs of all sizes must embrace and foster their relationships with the local press because without it they lose a vital link to their fans and the wider community.
Like journalism, politics is fundamentally local and no-one understands local affairs better than the journalists who cover those communities.
And, perhaps most importantly, local newspaper readers know that their local paper is on their side and they trust what they read in its pages.
Online, local news media content is nearly three times more trusted than social media content.
Since leaving Westminster, I have watched the debate around fake news with great interest.
My hope is that at the end result is a new appreciation of the role journalism plays in our lives and how it defends and enhances democracy.
We must ensure that the people and businesses who want to invest their time and resources in creating and distributing highly trusted local news content are able to continue to do so.
I am delighted to support Local Newspaper Week and the Making a Difference campaign. It is absolutely right that we celebrate the enormous value local papers contribute to our society and shout about it from the rooftops.
Ed Balls is a former Shadow Chancellor, Norwich City FC chair, and Strictly Come Dancing 2016 contestant.