Chronicling, championing, celebrating and questioning for 156 years of change

The Gazette's Pride in Dacorum Awards, September 2013
The Gazette's Pride in Dacorum Awards, September 2013

Read all about it – it’s Local Newspaper Week, a time to celebrate just what Britain’s diverse local press contributes to towns and cities up and down the country, and take stock of the many ways in which a successful and well-supported channel of communication – whether it’s a printed newspaper, a website or a combination of the two – can oil the wheels of any community.

Local Newspaper Week is an annual initiative to highlight the important role played by local papers across the UK.

Britain was the birthplace of dedicated local newspapers, and some titles still published can trace their roots back more than 300 years.

The Gazette, like many other titles, was founded in Victorian times and has been the number one channel for news in West Herts for more than 150 years. It has seen, and reported on, enormous change – two world wars, the coming of Hemel Hempstead new town and the M1, boom times and darker days.

It has never hesitated to move with the times as it reported on day to day local life each week – local newspaper journalists were among the first to abandon old-fashioned typewriters for computers, switch to full-colour printing and take advantage of other new technology – like digital photography, email, and social media like Twitter and Facebook.

Local newspapers were among the first news organisations in the country to make the move online, too – the Gazette’s award-winning websites have been in operation for more than 15 years, and are visited hundreds of thousands of times each month.

That means we can offer readers, and advertisers, an unrivalled service – whether you want to keep up with the news every day of the week, you’d prefer to wait for an authoritative and distilled weekly bulletin every Wednesday or you’re happy to get a snapshot through our free sister title, we’re your one-stop shop.

And like any good local newspaper, we make it our business to support the community we serve.

As well as reporting on the good news and the bad, we go out of our way to support the the vital organisations that make Dacorum tick.

Very few papers devote dedicated space each week to the activities of local schools, faith groups and other societies, and very few give a weekly platform to the area’s voluntary sector, helping to encourage people to put something back.

Our annual Pride In Dacorum event celebrates unsung heroes, and our lively letters pages provide a platform for local debate.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years of the threat to printed newspapers posed by the fragmentation of society and the availability of information on the internet, and there’s no doubt that we are living in time of great change – but that’s nothing new.

One thing is certain – any community that supports an independent source of news will be helping to ensure they live in a cohesive community that wants to move forward together. Does that sound like you?