JOURNALISM Matters is a new campaign highlighting the vital role trusted news media journalism plays in our democratic society.

Run by the News Media Association (NMA), the campaign, which lasts all this week, began with the launch of the Making a Difference online public vote for the best local newspaper campaign of the past year.

The Leader's publisher, Newsquest had a number of titles shortlisted for the Making a Difference award, for campaigns run in the past year.

Each of the campaigns are strong examples of how daily and weekly local newspapers benefit their communities, by getting behind a worthy cause which matters to their readers.

South Wales Argus was shortlisted after helping parents and health professionals fight to save a special needs service after Newport City Council announced they would be withdrawing funding.

The paper showcased the hundreds of vulnerable children that would be affected by SenCom closing. The issue soon caught the attention of politicians from the Welsh Assembly and national charities, who starting petitioning Newport Council to reconsider. High Court proceedings were soon issued, and by early February 2019 the council had "deferred" the decision to leave SenCom. The Argus kept up the pressure with articles focussing on the impact the change could have on children, potential redundancies in the service and growing political calls for it to be saved.

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Two months later, the news broke that the council had u-turned completely in the face of media and political pressure, and agreed to continue funding the service until 2022.

In May last year, the Evening Times Glasgow launched a campaign to persuade the city council to become the first in the UK to make CPR lessons mandatory in all secondary schools. It then expanded the campaign by pursuing every local authority in Scotland with the help of British Heart Foundation Scotland.

Tomorrow, the industry will hold a #trustednewsday to show readers exactly how trusted news is gathered, produced and distributed over the course of the day.

NMA chairman David Dinsmore said: "The ability of journalists to speak truth to power is one of the most precious freedoms in our democratic society.

"Acting on behalf of the public, local and national news media journalists reveal truths that would otherwise remain hidden, exposing them to public scrutiny.

"We campaign on the issues that matter to you and fight for wrongs to be righted.

"This is happening on an hourly, daily and weekly basis, whether it's the local paper uncovering corruption in the local council, or a national title exposing the misdemeanours of powerful individuals. Journalism makes a positive contribution to society and this should be celebrated."

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There are plenty of statistics that back up the importance of local news matter - especially when it comes to trust.

There are 1,000 local media titles in the UK with local newspapers, in both print and digital, read by 42 million adults in Britain. Local newspapers in print and digital are more than three times more trusted for local news and information than social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

"Forty eight million people in the United Kingdom consume news media in print or digital every month," continued Mr Dinsmore. "Yet, despite the huge audiences who rely on and support what we do, the climate for independent journalism remains hugely challenging.

"Take, for example, the numerous threats to freedom of speech. Appallingly, journalists across the world are in danger of serious physical violence.

"Already this year, 10 journalists have been killed and 172 journalists are languishing in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders.

"Their recently published international Press Freedom League Table shows the UK rising seven places to 33rd out of 180 countries. This is good news, but we shouldn't think it's only journalists in far flung locations who are at risk.

"A recent chilling example - the murder of journalist Lyra McKee - happened in Northern Ireland last month.

"In a number of ways, the serious threat to freedom of speech is right here on our doorstep.

"As an industry, we have to counter this by communicating the considerable benefits that journalism produces for society."

MPs have praised the Leader for the role the newspaper plays in the community, giving their support to the Journalism Matters campaign as it highlights the importance of the local media.

Hannah Blythyn, Assembly Member for Delyn, said: "Local newspapers can provide a voice that both reports to and reflects our communities.

"In an age of what is often called 'fake news', they provide a well-known and trusted source of news and information - something that is more important than ever today. Local newspapers can also be a central part of our democracy - challenging, informing and championing causes."

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who is a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, also gave his backing to the campaign and highlighted the issue of 'fake news', which has become an unfortunate buzz-phrase in recent years.

"My work on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has opened my eyes to the threat 'fake news' and disinformation poses to our democracy," said Mr Lucas. "It means the role of trusted local news outlets is more important than ever.

"We are fortunate in Wrexham to have a number of hard-working journalists who play a vital role in the community, engaging with audiences on a daily basis and holding those in power to account."

"This is what the business of journalism is all about," added Mr Dinsmore. "I hope this initiative will trigger a much-needed reset in the way journalists and journalism are viewed.

"There will always be those who try to stop the truth being exposed. There are many in power who would rather the press did not exist.

"We must stand together against this pernicious threat by sending a powerful message that we will not be cowed or silenced.

"And we must always seek to highlight the immense good that journalism brings to society.

"Journalism really does matter.

"We thank you, our readers, for your continued support of our journalism and the vital part it plays in our society."