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Local newspaper week: Shropshire Star is eyes and ears of community

Opinions | Published:

The Shropshire Star has been part of the fabric of everyday life in Shropshire and Mid Wales since its launch, writes editor Martin Wright.

Martin Wright, editor of the Shropshire Star, at the newspaper’s HQ in Ketley, Telford

When the Shropshire Star launched 54 years ago, the county did not have its own daily newspaper.

Instead, it had an edition of our sister paper, the Express & Star. But since our newspaper launched in 1964, we have been there to cover every aspect of life in Shropshire and Mid Wales. We have reported on triumph, disaster, joy and sorrow. We have also, in our own way, helped shape the face of the region, shining a light on the decisions made by those in power – and standing up for our readers in the face of injustice.

In the intervening years, technology has revolutionised the way people consume news and information. It is worth pausing to consider that the first iPhone was only launched in 2007 – 11 years ago – sparking a seismic change in mobile technology.

This in turn has prompted massive – and sometimes painful – changes for our industry. As well as producing your daily newspaper, the Shropshire Star has evolved into a multimedia service, bringing readers the news in whatever format they choose – be it in print, via the website, via social media or delivered straight to a smartphone or tablet with our app. Today we reach more than 110,000 people every day through our print and digital channels.

Throughout these changes, the Shropshire Star continues to stand for the same core principles. We are committed to delivering the very best news service, keeping you in touch with all the news and events from around Shropshire and Mid Wales – and further afield. Our team of journalists, based in offices around the region, are dedicated to producing accurate, interesting stories that inform and entertain. We will hold those in power to account, exposing bad decisions to public scrutiny, but praising them if they get it right. Our reporters are out and about every day, at council meetings, court hearings, public events and much more besides. We are your eyes and ears – and it is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

In the last year, we have continued to champion the people of this wonderful county. Working with our partners Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, we will hand out another £20,000 to good causes through our Cash For Your Community campaign in a matter of weeks. This year will also see us celebrate the region’s unsung heroes with our very first Great Big Thank You Awards.

Last year we ran a campaign highlighting the need to improve our major roads – the A5 and A483 – that was supported by more than 5,000 of you, our readers.

We have reported on the Future Fit saga every step of the way, helping you stay in touch with what the future holds for our hospitals and, specifically, our A&E departments. We have covered – and will continue to cover – the unfolding events relating to child sex exploitation in Telford in great depth, while Shropshire Council’s decision to purchase Shrewsbury’s three shopping centres was analysed and debated through our pages.

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Our journalists worked through the night reporting on last year’s general election and the Shropshire Star was one of the first newspapers in the country to hit the streets with the result.

There has been – and continues to be – plenty of debate over press regulation in this country. Only last week, an amendment to the Data Protection Bill could have endangered the free press.

The Section 40 legislation would have required publishers who are not signed up to State-backed press regulator Impress – which is funded by Max Mosley – to pay the costs of legal action brought against them, regardless of whether they won or lost.

The amendment was defeated but the threat to the freedom of the press refuses to go away. During the debate in the Commons, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said: “While I want to see a press that is free to report without fear or favour, and to uncover wrongdoing and to hold the powerful to account, I also want to see a press that is fair and accurate too.”

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The Shropshire Star readily endorses Mr Hancock’s sentiment. We are proud of the work we do and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism, which is why we are a member of Ipso. Ipso is a robust, independent regulator that upholds the Editors’ Code of Practice. It takes up complaints from members of the public, requires the prominent publication of corrections, and has the power to fine up to £1 million for serious enough breaches of the Editors’ Code. It is not, as some would have it, toothless.

Finally, a word of thanks to you, our readers. We are only able to do what we do with your support. The Shropshire Star is your paper. In the five years I have been lucky enough to edit this newspaper, I have had countless conversations – sometimes very forthright conversations – with readers expressing an opinion about what we have or have not done. This feedback is vital to ensure we continue to provide you with the very best service.

I would encourage anybody with comments about the Star – good or bad – to get in touch with me directly at martin.wright@shropshirestar.co.uk. Similarly, if you have a story you would like to share, please don’t hesitate to let me know. We are, after all, here to help you.

Thank you for reading.

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