WHO remembers the huge campaign to keep blood testing in south Essex?

Or the drive to raise awareness of County Lines drugs dealers targeting our school children?

And who keeps our councils accountable?

Who tells you the news they would sometimes rather keep secret?

Who encourages frank and open debate, both in the paper itself and online and social media?

Whose stories are often picked up by national newspapers and the BBC?

The answer? The Echo, and other papers like us.

This week, we are joining the Journalism Matters campaign - which used to be Local Newspaper Week – marking the pivotal role journalism plays in supporting communities across the country.

David Dinsmore, chairman of the News Media Association, explained: “The ability of journalists to speak truth to power is one of the most precious freedoms in our democratic society.

“Acting on behalf of the public, local and national news media journalists reveal truths that would otherwise remain hidden, exposing them to public scrutiny.

“We campaign on the issues that matter to you and fight for wrongs to be righted.

“Journalism makes a positive contribution to society and this should be celebrated.

“Forty-eight million people in the UK consume news media in print or digital every month. Yet, despite the huge audiences who rely on and support what we do, the climate for independent journalism remains hugely challenging.”

The Echo helps our communities every day, whether it is re-uniting lost pets or helping to boost fundraising, to securing patients’ vital medication.

The paper can often act as a middle man to help fight for what’s right.

For example, take 80-year-old Southend resident, Robert Green, who was fined £90 for parking in a Lidl car park for eight minutes longer than he should have, despite being inside the store shopping with a host of health difficulties making him less mobile.

With our help, the company opted to cancel the fine.

Today, we bring you the story of seven-year-old autistic girl who was reunited with her ‘fairy garden’ after all the ornaments for it had been stolen.

Our coverage of the story saw an abundance of residents send fairy items and gifts to her.

Tony Cox, Southend Council leader, recognises the importance of local papers.

He said: “Throughout my time as a councillor I have viewed local newspapers as the bedrock of local communities and I’ve always said if a town has its own daily newspaper, it’s the mark of a good town.

“The quality of local journalism is better, fairer and more trusted than national news.

“In this digital age, local newspapers have done more than national counterparts to evolve.

“Local papers have pushed and supported local campaigns and, importantly, held the council to account - shining a light on local democracy which is welcomed and needed.”

Journalists don’t have the best reputation but the Journalism Matters campaign aims to highlight the good we do.

We do our best to support you. Please, continue to support us.