Faith Focus: Speaking truth to power

Rev Peter Crumpler

Rev Peter Crumpler - Credit: Rev Peter Crumpler

Congratulations to all the women and men elected to serve as councillors in St Albans and Harpenden. And thanks to all those who stood but were not elected. 

In my experience, the people who stand in elections, both local and national, are generally people of good will – and often of faith – who are committed to working for the public good.

They may have different policies and belong to a range of parties, but most people who go into politics want to make their community or country a better place.

Local churches will be praying for our councillors and MPs and seeking to support them as they work for us all. Part of that support could include questioning them, challenging them, or asking them to justify or change their policies.

But whose job is it to hold local councillors and officials to account? I believe one vital role of the Herts Advertiser and other local media is to do just that.

Since the mid-1850s, this newspaper has been keeping local people informed of decisions that affect their lives and playing an active role in our community.

Yet newspapers like the Herts Advertiser are feeling the squeeze, with much advertising going online to global tech companies like Facebook and Google. Reading trends have changed with many people seeking out their news on the web or from social media with trusted news sources losing out.

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The local press has been fighting back, developing their online presence and new sources of income, but it’s a tough marketplace.

Local news, produced by experienced journalists with a deep knowledge of their patch is an essential part of local democracy. Without strong local journalism, who is there to ‘speak truth to power’ and hold local politicians to account?

Churches and other faith groups have much grassroots knowledge and also have a role in speaking out. Often, we know how policies will work out on our patch and have people in our congregations with specialist knowledge. Our networks go deep into communities across the country.

But the local media has a key role. So let’s be supporting the Herts Advertiser and its team and encouraging them to speak truth to power – and keeping our newly-elected councillors on their toes.