THE importance of journalism in society is being highlighted by a newspaper industry campaign launched today and backed by the Hexham Courant.

Journalism Matters, which runs from May 13 to 19, is run by the News Media Association – an organisation which represents the voice of national, regional and local news brands.

The campaign, which replaces Local Newspaper Week, is a platform for news media titles across the industry to remind readers and local residents about the importance of trusted journalism in our democratic society.

Hexham Courant editor, Gemma Brown, said: “In this ever-changing world, this week is a chance to remind people that local newspapers continue to play an important role within our communities; people want to feel connected; to know what is happening on their patch and to know that someone is holding power to account."

To mark the campaign, we've asked a series of leading figures from across the area to share their views on why publications, like the Hexham Courant, continue to play an important role.

First up is newly-elected North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll.

“Local papers are a vital service to our communities. They do some top quality reporting, and it’s that closeness to the communities they serve that’s key," he said.

“They educate, entertain and inform people about what is happening in their neighbourhoods, and engender a feeling of community spirit which is vitally important in civil society.

“It’s that local connection that makes them such an important platform for free speech and democracy, so I am delighted to support Journalism Matters week.”