Local newspapers and their websites are the most trusted providers of news in this country.
They are also fierce defenders of the communities they serve.
But to train journalists to the highest professional standards and to deliver the quality of writing and research on which readers rely costs money.
So across Britain a new campaign has been launched, #buyapaper, which urges residents to purchase a copy of their local title every week.
Newspapers have been in existence for more than 300 years, and in recent years the online version of this paper and many others has grown exponentially.
But the importance we place on the integrity of our journalism has not changed.
Our priorities are our communities and our focus is unwavering – if it affects our readers we are interested.
That means our content covers a huge range... from local events and restaurant reviews to courts and council meetings.
We hold our politicians to account and we support them when they try to get a better deal for local people. We champion the issues raised by our readers and highlight their achievements.
In the digital age – when more information is available to us all than at any point in history – the reliability of that information is becoming more critical than it has ever been.
Our journalists are not merely trained to the highest industry standard but they are independently accountable as well. We are accountable to the law, we are accountable to the Independent Press Standards Organisation and we are accountable to our readers. This accountability is vitally important. We are not faceless or hard to find – we engage with our audience hundreds of times every day.
If we make a mistake we are quick to correct it.
The vast amount of news available online and the rise of Facebook and Google has meant challenging economic conditions for local news publishers. Respected Estonian politician and academic Toomas Hendrik Ilves put it as simply as anyone when he said: “Fake news is cheap to produce. Genuine journalism is expensive.”
This newspaper is proud to be part of JPIMedia – a new company which bought the titles previously owned by Johnston Press.
That business deal was welcomed by our audiences in print and online. Overwhelmingly, our readers stepped forward to support us and stress the value of their local paper and the news it provides in print and online.
The #buyapaper campaign was not our idea – it came from readers of local news up and down the country who wanted to support us in what they saw as a difficult moment.
But picking up on the simple observation of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, to continue to serve our communities we will need your continued support.
You can give that support very easily – please use our website, follow us on social media and, just as importantly... buy a paper.
We will repay you by continuing to focus everything we do on reporting the local news and the issues that affect you. So this is what we are asking of you:
Buy a copy of this newspaper every week.
Encourage one friend, neiighbour or colleague to do the same.
And consider buying a year-long subscription to the title as a Christmas present. Visit www.localsubsplus.co.uk for more information.