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This Is Wiltshire: Staunch Adver reader and correspondent Mary Ratcliffe says papers promote literacy and encourage debate Staunch Adver reader and correspondent Mary Ratcliffe says papers promote literacy and encourage debate

TECHNOLOGY has revolutionised the reading habits of the Adver’s readers, so much so that many people now read the paper’s columns on a screen in the palm of their hand.

The Adver’s iPhone and iPad app launched two years ago and now hundreds of people have made the switch, while the hardcore readership remain attached to the feel of newsprint between their fingers.

We spoke to two long-term Adver readers who reflect this change as part of Local Newspaper Week this week, highlighting how papers make a difference in their communities.

Geraint Day, of the town centre, has taken the Adver since he moved to town from Lancaster in 1981.

He said he has stopped reading national newspapers and instead relies on the BBC and Adver app for his daily fix of news and current affairs.

“I’ve always found the Adver is great for interesting local news and finding out what’s going on in the area,” the 59-year-old said.

“I don’t bother with the national papers anymore – there is too much lifestyle stuff and articles telling you how to think so I use the BBC for my national news. But I always read the Adver for the local stuff.

“I stopped taking the physical paper and got the app over a year ago because now I can download and read it wherever I am, on the move. I travel a lot for work but I usually like to read it in the morning. If I can’t then I can pick it up in the evening and it’s not like there’s a paper copy I then have to dispose of.”

By contrast long-term reader and contributor to the letters page, Mary Ratcliffe, still gets the hard copy of the Adver each day and has done since the early 1960s.

The 89-year-old, of Old Town, said papers still promoted literacy and encourage debate.

“You are a lifeline,” she said.

“You cannot put feeling into a computer but you can in the power of the written word. What worries me so much is that our children at the age of three or four, start using a computer. People everywhere are texting or staring at their mobile phones and not looking at the world around them.

“That’s why people should read the paper - it encourages literacy and debate.

“What I would say though is that I would like to see at least a column or page for national news - otherwise children might think Swindon is the world.”

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Local papers crucial to democracy

This Is Wiltshire:

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Local Newspaper Week is a great opportunity to highlight the vital role newspapers play in our communities.

“From the Plymouth Herald to the Stirling Observer, 1,100 titles across the UK keep readers up to date and informed, week in, week out.

“I know times have been tough for local papers. The Great Recession hit sales and advertising hard.

“Fewer staff are being asked to produce more and more.

“And new technology demands that news is gathered faster and published quicker, all at a time when online competition is increasing.

“But reporters, editors, subs-editors and photographers have risen to the challenge.
“And there are two reasons I think it is important we recognise that.  First, local newspapers hold public authorities to account.

“They are crucial to our democracy. They report on council meetings – and taxpayers know if their money is being spent wisely.

“They publish police appeals – and witnesses come forward.

“They cover court cases - and communities know when justice has been done.
“And they scrutinise local politicians – so voters know if their MP is working in their interests.

“It's no surprise, then, that 30 million of us read local papers each week – more than any other print medium – and we are twice as likely to trust the local press than any other news source.

“Second, local papers continually fight for their communities, agitating for change, and, very often, succeeding. That's the theme of this year's Local Newspaper Week: making a difference.

“Because with their commitment to campaigning on local issues, local newspapers aren't just breaking the news, they're making it.”

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