Community leaders and representatives spoke today of the vital role our trusted news service plays in keeping the region strong, safe, and vibrant.
Last week, we launched a campaign Fighting Fake News and highlighted the very real dangers of fabricated stories peddled across social media.
We highlighted the exemplary standards of training we invest in and the robust codes of conduct we are committed to provide news that is wholly trusted.
It is a campaign that is being supported by local papers across the UK.
This week, key figures from across South Tyneside said our quality journalism was essential in holding those in authority to account and keeping them fully informed of local decisions and information.
Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, believes reliable news was paramount to local papers.
It is essential people are listened to accuratelyDeborah Roberts
He said: “In a world dominated by social media and people making outlandish statements we need the balance of good local journalism.
“We need journalists to challenge, question and present real news, facts and events.”
Coun Lee Hughes, a Putting People First representative is the only member of the opposition on South Tyneside Council.
He says he relied up the Gazette to get his views across fairly and accurately.
He said: “Despite me being the only member of the opposition in South Tyneside, my local newspaper always publishes my views and gives me a chance to say what needs to be said.
“I feel this is important as it means, although I am only one of one, standing against an entire party, I can still get my point across and people need to hear alternative views and opinions in the interest of balance and democracy.”
Deborah Roberts, co-founder and manager of Cancer Connections in South Shields, has worked with the Gazette to publicise health issues and help raise funds for her charity for many years. She says accuracy and honest reporting is paramount.
Deborah said: “Often charity members will speak out and share something so very personal though the Gazette.
“Get it right and it is a positive and powerful thing. Get it wrong and papers will never understand how it affects that person.
“That’s why it’s essential people are listened to and their stories are reported correctly and accurately.”
Tom Fennelly, South Shields volunteer Life Brigade’s honorary secretary, thinks modern technology is a big issue when it comes to fighting fake news.
He said: “The problem we have now is everyone who has a phone with a camera, think they are a journalists.
“They take a picture and rush to social media to post things without having the full information or facts.
“It’s more important than ever in today’s world of 24-hour news that stories appear firstly, accurate and true, and secondly honest and fair, that’s the basic ethical code for any organisation.
“Within our work often find that people have jumped to the wrong conclusion. It concerns me that people now seem to readily pass comment and judgment without properly processing the information they are given.”