Page 6 feature: For the news that matters to you

Local newspapers are at the heart of the community, giving readers the news that matters to them. As part of Local Newspaper Week, Katy Wheeler looks at the importance of the Echo in Sunderland.

Black, white and read all over the city, the Sunderland Echo has been informing and entertaining Wearsiders for more than a century.

But what is it that makes you want to dive into its pages each day?

Some people turn straight to the back for a dose of Black Cats' news, but it isn't just SAFC which fill the reams of daily Echo pages.

Whether its human interest, council goings-on, entertainment stories, family announcements or just community news, there's always something eye-catching in the Echo.

Then there are the scores of online readers who log on to to get the latest breaking news and sports stories.

But the Echo effect stretches far beyond its pages. Our Sign Up To Save a Life campaign ensured that hundreds more Wearsiders signed up to the life-saving organ donation register.

Meanwhile Wear 1's community champions awards make sure the city's unsung heroes get the recognition they so richly deserve.

And next month the Echo-backed Enough Is Enough petition will be presented to the Prime Minister to demand tougher sentencing for killers.

We went on to the streets of the city to see what YOU think.

Stanley Thompson, 76, is a retired miner from Castletown.

"I check the deaths first to make sure I'm alive!

"There's always something interesting in the Echo. I buy it three times a week.

"I like Thursdays for the listings in The Guide and Down Your Way on a Tuesday."

Julia Alder, 66, a retired Pyrex worker from Millfield, likes reading her local paperabout scandals.

"I get the Echo delivered every day and I'm straight on the phone if it's ever late.

"I like all the human interest stories and I always look out for stories about Millfield."

Susan Wiffin, a 42-year-old mum-of-two from Thorney Close says reading the Echo has become part of her everyday routine.

"I read the paper every day, except Sunday, from back to front.

"It's the only paper I buy. I like the classifieds and all the local stuff, I like to know what's going on."

Potted history of the Echo

1873 The Echo was first published. At least 20 separate newspapers were launched in Sunderland between 1830 and 1906, though the Echo is the only one to survive.

1876 Staff move from cramped High Street office into new premises in Bridge Street.

1878 Echo buys up a daily rival and becomes a daily paper.

1934 Huge fire destroys most of the paper's archive of old bound files.

1976 Offices move to Pennywell and colour pictures begin appearing in paper. The year also saw the return of the Football Echo man, who shone out across parts of the city indicating whether SAFC had won, drawn or lost.

1991 More than a century after first trying, the Echo finally bought up the Shields Gazette and associated weekly titles in Northumberland.

1996 Website launched

1998 Echo becomes part of Johnston Press, the UK's fourth largest newspaper publishers.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown puts pen to paper to celebrate local newspaper week

'LOCAL newspapers are right at the heart of Britain's local communities, examining the issues which matter, seeking out local people's views, and representing their interests.

That is why the readers of local newspapers see them as such honest, responsible and accurate sources of news.

But local newspapers do not just hold the Government to account for the local impact of the changes we are making. They also play a vital a role in campaigning for the changes which local people want to see.

There are some real challenges ahead for Britain as a country, every one of which has an impact on local people – whether it is providing more affordable housing, improving our health service, making sure all our young people have the skills to get jobs in the future, making our streets safer for decent people, or protecting our environment.

I know these challenges are appreciated by local newspapers up and down the country, and reflected in their campaigns, from encouraging shoppers to use fewer plastic bags, to tackling gangs and knife crime.

I believe that we can only meet all these challenges if we do more to listen to local people across the country and give them more power to take decisions themselves on the way their local services are organised and funded.

Local newspapers are a critical part of this process, and I know that there is a huge opportunity for them to lead more campaigns on the issues which matter.

And I want readers of this newspaper to know that when you participate in these campaigns, we are listening to you.'

Press facts

Eighty-four per cent of adults, 40.5million people, read a local newspaper, making it the most widely read medium in the country.

There are more than 1,300 local newspapers and 1,100 associated websites in the UK.

More than 788million is spent each year buying local newspapers.

More than 13.5million adults read a local newspaper but do not read a national newspaper.