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Why we will always remain a proud champion for our region

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

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Do you ever stand at the bar, clutching a five pound note ready to order a couple of pints – only to be surprised to find you are at least a pound short?

Or do you still turn up at the cinema expecting a ticket to cost about a fiver? Or a first class stamp to be 27p? If so, like me, you are one of those who are constantly surprised by how expensive things have become. Have you bought a can of Coke recently?

Today, the price of the Saturday edition of the Western Morning News has gone up by 10p. The cost of our Monday to Friday editions will rise by 5p a day. We firmly believe the Western Morning News still provides exceptional value for money.

Outside of Plymouth, where the WMN's sister title The Herald remains a six-day-a-week publication, the WMN is the only daily newspaper serving Devon and Cornwall.

This makes its role, as a news operation, as a vehicle for debate, as a champion for the region and its aspirations – and as a guardian of free speech and open justice – more important than ever before.

That our courts and councils are held in public, and under the scrutiny of the public is an essential part of the great democracy we live in. The Western Morning News has a critical role in acting as the eyes and ears, and the voice, of the public.

One only has to look at the turnout, the entry level, and the air of celebration at this week's Western Morning News business awards to see how crucial the newspaper is as a champion for excellence here in the far South West.

And when the region, or any part or community in it, needs it, the Western Morning News is prepared quite literally to bang on the door of Number 10 and demand that the voices of its communities are heard. No-one who lived through the foot-and-mouth crisis and its aftermath will doubt that.

The WMN is one of the few regional daily papers still retaining a permanent presence in Westminster. We see this as crucial in our role of reporting matters of Government to our readers, but also in keeping the Westcountry agenda at the top of the pile in MPs' briefing boxes.

The Western Morning News is proud to employ an award-winning farming editor, himself a champion for one of the region's largest sectors. We are proud of our connections in Cornwall and our role in celebrating its culture, channelled mainly through the work of our Living Cornwall editor Simon Parker.

Our business coverage, fronted by business editor Liz Parks, is unsurpassed in the South West peninsula, and has been at the centre of two successful Regional Growth Fund bids with Plymouth University.

Staff writers Martin Hesp, Becky Sheaves and Janet King are all award-winning journalists who specialise in writing and recording every aspect of life in the Westcountry. Our food, television, arts, culture, music and theatre coverage is unrivalled, and we receive and publish hundreds of readers' letters every week, carry issue pieces every day written by industry leaders or expert contributors, and provide extensive national and international news.

We feature more than 60 pages of sports coverage each week.

Add in puzzles and crosswords, daily TV listings, local and national share prices, weather, pictures, locally focused classified advertising, some fantastic value reader offers and you have quite a package.

I make no apology if this sounds a little self- congratulatory. Local and regional newspapers remain important, relevant and an essential part of life in Britain, and particularly in rural Britain, where community voices are often unheard and regularly undervalued. In a time of increasing prices and costs, the Western Morning News remains incredible value for money.

Local pubs, local post offices, local shops, have closed in their thousands, leaving communities cut off, deprived of services, and easily ignored. The essence of those local services have too often been undervalued by communities until they have gone.

Today you will find new features in the Western Morning News. All of our Saturday sections have been re-packaged and expanded in order to give readers more and better presented for their money. You will also see this through the week, with all of our specialist sections getting a new look and feel.

Newspaper Society research carried out in 2011 shows that local newspapers remain the most trusted form of media in the country. They also represent the media "most likely to fuel local pride", and the media most relevant to being part of a local community.

We hope you will value the service, the quality, and the integrity of the Western Morning News as much as we do.

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