A NEW campaign to highlight the power of local news has kicked off this week.

Journalism Matters, which replaces Local Newspaper Week, is a platform for news titles across the industry to tell readers about the importance of trusted journalism in its society.

In an era when fake news is becoming ever more widespread, highly trusted brands like The Westmorland Gazette are more important than ever.

The campaign, which was set up by News Media Association (NMA), launched the week with the Making a Difference award. It’s an accolade to celebrate the power of local newspapers to campaign for positive change in the communities they serve. The Gazette’s Give Them a Break has been nominated for this award.

NMA chairman David Dinsmore called for the benefits of journalism to society to be properly acknowledged.

“The ability of journalists to speak truth to power is one of the most precious freedoms in our democratic society,” he said. “We campaign on the issues that matter to you and fight for wrongs to be righted.

“Journalism makes a positive contribution to society and this should be celebrated.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron said local newspapers played a “crucial role” in society.

“Local newspapers play an absolutely crucial role in keeping local people in touch with what’s going on in their area,” he said. “Here in the South Lakes we are very lucky to have The Westmorland Gazette, who not only do a great job in keeping our communities informed but also in campaigning to produce real, tangible benefits for them.”

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said businesses recognised the newspaper’s importance in the community.

“Having begun my own career as a community newspaper reporter, I know all too well the integral role that local newspapers play in community life,” she said. “Papers like The Westmorland Gazette have become household names and barely a week goes by without ‘the Gazette’ coming up in my conversations; and I’m sure that’s the same case for the vast majority of people who live in its circulation area.” Local newspapers like the Westmorland Gazette also serve as a vital community resource.”