Newspapers are an important part of the economic recovery

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At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic. The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thank you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time.

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I am a firm believer that a free and fearless press is essential to hold those in power to account. The relationship between journalists and politicians is one that has tension at its heart.

But it is a healthy tension, which can be productive and positive. Journalists are in the position to pose the questions that the public want to ask – and it is our duty as politicians to answer them as honestly and fairly as we can.

Indeed, newspapers often don’t make life easy for politicians: but I absolutely recognise that it is not their job to do so.

It is the role of journalists to ask those hard questions and, in doing so, provide a foundation for the democratic and open society in which we live.

Of course we are not living in normal times. The Covid-19 pandemic means we are living in an unprecedented period.

At the regular Covid-19 media briefings, I take questions from 15 to 20 media outlets every day,  encompassing broadcast, print and online, with several of them covering news for their town, city or locality.

I am keenly aware of how important it is that the questions receive the answers they deserve, because journalism is an essential part of the country’s response to Covid: not only by asking those hard questions, but also in communicating vital factual information to the public.

Newspapers’ daily and weekly print stories that explain government thinking and the latest  response to the pandemic – but also relay the guidance and advice that can help protect its readers from this potentially deadly virus.

In such a febrile and ever-changing situation, trusted and responsible journalism is as important as it has ever been.

Newspapers also are an important part of the economic recovery from the impact of the virus. They can provide a vital platform, through their advertising, to businesses, in particular small and medium  enterprises.

So if, as I do, you value and truly believe in the enormous value of our democracy, then you will join  me in giving your support to newspapers during this year’s Journalism Matters campaign.

Without highly trusted local journalism produced by newspapers, democracy itself would be undermined.

Journalism Matters is a celebration of our newspapers and I am pleased to give it my full support.