I first picked up a local newspaper aged 11, when an article I submitted, about what it means to be a good citizen, appeared in print. The idea that people across the borough would read my thoughts about the importance of paying taxes and cleaning up after your dog, filled me with an enormous sense of achievement and empowerment – my belief in the power of communications to influence behaviour started early.
I never ended up becoming a journalist, nevertheless the early experience of seeing your name in print stayed with me and fostered my appreciation and love for the media. Over the years, I observed friends and acquaintances launching successful careers in local newsrooms, reporting from council meetings, courtrooms and community events. Some used that as an entry point to national news, and some chose to stay local – believing that each community deserves high quality journalism that will hold those in power to account, at the ground level.
The decline of regional news over the past few decades has been a worrying trend. With advertising revenue moving from ads pages to companies such as Facebook and Google, the traditional newspaper business model collapsed – between 2007 and 2017, the newspaper advertising expenditure in the UK went down 70%. From 2005 to the end of 2018, there was a net loss of 245 local news titles – an estimated 58% of the country is not served by a regional newspaper.