Local journalism at the heart of your community matters more than ever

Not just tomorrow's fish and chip paper, but a vital part of a community, says Geri Scott

Not just tomorrow's fish and chip paper, but a vital part of a community, says Geri Scott - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In her final column for this paper, Geri Scott explains why we should all be supporting journalists

Buy a paper.

If you take nothing more from my final column for this newspaper it's that, I'm urging you to buy a paper - not necessarily this one, not necessarily one owned by my (now former) employer Archant, but buy a paper.

Working on the newspapers I grew up with for the last four-and-a-half years has been an experience. Good or bad, it changed as much as the weather, but it has been an experience.

Starting on the Great Yarmouth Mercury fresh out of university, I told everyone I spoke to how every Friday when I was a student at Cliff Park High School in Gorleston, my nanny would send me down to her local corner shop on Brasenose Avenue to get the Mercury.


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My nanny Pamela Sherwood died before I started working as a journalist, which meant she never got to see my name in print, but my ties to the Mercury go back to seeing it on her kitchen table, the Advertiser dropping through the letter box every Thursday, and her little cuttings folder she kept of whenever a member of our large family would appear in the paper.

Now, as I move to take on a new job working in Westminster for the Yorkshire Post - a link to my father's side of the family, who are from Halifax - the EDP or Mercury aren't just papers you see on the coffee table, that you use to wrap your glassware when you're moving house. I see they're intrinsic parts of our community.

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It is easy, if you go by only what is written on Facebook, to think things have changed. People are quick to accuse journalists of anything and everything, from lying and cheating, to not living locally, to intruding in people's lives when we're not wanted.

On the latter point, sometimes that is our job, but in the vast majority of cases I have always been welcomed with open arms - unless of course someone has been doing something wrong!

In the last few years I've sat in the living rooms of countless grieving families, brave enough to tell me about their loved ones at the worst time of their lives. As health correspondent the strength of those who told me about their mental health struggles has been especially touching as a close relative of mine lives with paranoid schizophrenia, so I know exactly how these conditions have a ripple effect on those around them.

It is an honour to tell these stories, and also to be able to get a bit bolshy with organisations in a David-and-Goliath fight where the everyday person does not always get a voice. It is empowering to have that strength to get justice for those unable to access it themselves.

But all this can only be done if you buy a paper and help us continue that work.

I am passionate about our local papers and my colleagues, who every day stay late and burn themselves out to put out quality papers.

Next time you accuse us of "only writing this to sell papers", when you're reading it for free on Facebook, remember that we live in our communities too and care about them and want them to improve.

You grow a thick skin in this job but that doesn't mean losing touch of what is important and what matters to people. In fact that's more important than ever, and I can vouch for every colleague of mine when I say they truly care about their jobs.

But even if you don't want to buy a paper to support us, the journalists, then do it to support your fellow readers. Do it for those who need their voice heard and this newspaper can be the only way to do so.

So my final plea to you is, even if it's just once a week, once a fortnight, buy a paper. Visit our newsroom. Speak to your local reporter. Journalism matters - local journalism even more so.

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This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

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