IN TIMES of political uncertainty, austerity and a need to make your voice heard, there has never been a greater need for a reliable media.

Today is #trustednewsday, when regional journalists lift the lid on how the news is gathered.

In a world filled with instant messaging and social media, the role of the newspaper is often questioned, however across north and west Cumbria the News & Star’s place in the community is more vital than ever.

From celebrating the very best of our NHS to sharing tales of inspiration in the face of heartbreak, our journalists are part of your community. Most recently, reporters were out at elections counts across the region, keeping you up-to-date with the results - and trying to make sense of the fallout.

Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said this power to hold people to account is crucial.

“Local newspapers are absolutely vital for local democracy,” he explained, “making people aware of what is happening around them and how they can influence what is happening around them.

“Local journalism should always be independent and stand up against established interests.

“Cumbrian local newspapers have a long and honourable history of reporting the news as it is. Sometimes that has annoyed powerful people and that is a good thing.

“You can only make informed decisions if you have local news being reported.”

Broadcaster Eric Robson added: “Local newspapers are a valuable resource. It is local democracy in action and it is tragic when they go.

“By their very nature, the broadcast media cover much bigger areas and if you want to have an accurate portrait of the way things are looking, that is where local newspapers come into their own and offer a very valuable resource.”

In many instances, it is only when the media spotlight is shone upon an issue that it can get the coverage and awareness it deserves.

Andy Fearon is a prime mover in Give A Day To The City, the annual campaign in which hundreds of people volunteer their time to projects which help the Carlisle area.

“Local newspapers report on the positive things,” he said.

“The Cumberland News and News & Star have been really helpful in letting people know what’s going on with Give A Day and telling people’s stories. People have become involved after reading about it in these papers.

“These two papers are always telling people’s stories. During the 2015 floods a lot of people felt overlooked and not listened to. A friend of mine’s photograph was on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. He was being helped out of his house.

“I remember trying to get the Telegraph to tell the rest of his story. They didn’t - the News & Star did.”

Chetna Reay runs a civil engineering consultancy from her home at Houghton. In 2007 she donated a kidney to her mother. The News & Star reported on the transplant, and on Chetna’s appeals for people to carry an organ donor card.

Chetna explained: “Local newspapers serve the communities we live in to keep us informed.

“There is so much hype at a national level and it’s easy to lose touch of what’s happening on our doorsteps.

“The local paper is a great way for readers to relate to news regarding the members of their communities.

“It also serves to promote national issues at a human level. For example, reporting the story of me donating a kidney to my mum.

“I know that that has resonated with many in the local community and has encouraged people to think about the donor registers and how they can help people.”

Amy Johnson, events officer at Workington town council, said: “It’s always good to see all the different events that are held in Workington generally getting coverage and support from the local papers.

“Workington has a positive image these days and the coverage in the papers helps with that.

“It also helps to have a round-up of what is going on in the town and let people know about it. They are always a popular feature in the papers. If they weren’t there I’m sure they would be missed.”

Rachael Rodway, chairman of Carlisle Food Bank, believes that having journalists report on the very areas they live in, shop in and socialise in is key in knowing what the issues really are.

“The great thing about the local press in Carlisle, and not necessarily everywhere, is that in the seven years we’ve been here the reporters have got to know us and know how we operate,” she explained.

“They have always been very sympathetic. When we moved premises or when we’ve had crises to handle, they have always stepped up to the plate.

“We find that where the newspapers in Carlisle lead, the rest of the media follow. The papers set the agenda.”