Comment: Importance of local journalism highlighted as editor says farewell

I write this column with a heavy heart, as I enter my last week as editor of the Mandurah Mail and Avon Valley Advocate.

A new challenge working in communications in Broome awaits and while excited at the opportunity, there is a feeling of trepidation at moving away from journalism after almost 10 years.

Looking back at my time in Mandurah, I am immensely proud of what the newspaper has achieved.

The Mail campaigned ardently for additional resources at the Peel Health Campus - governments listened and almost $35 million was pledged to the hospital in less than 18 months.

We highlighted the need for a second women's refuge in the Peel region - the crucial facility is now set to become a reality in 2021 as a result.

The Peel Health Hub's necessity for care co-ordinators to help protect our vulnerable youth made repeated front page news late last year - before the decision-makers took note and pledged more funds.

And the baffling fact that no reward for information was attached to the cold case death of Mandurah teenager Annette Deverell was scrutinised - with a $250,000 reward now on offer after our four-part podcast.

With the media landscape changing, supporting local journalism has never been more important.

The process of identifying a local issue, highlighting the need for change, lobbying decision makers and driving social improvement has been undertaken by the Mail over the last 18 months and is critical to the social fabric of any regional community.

Having worked at other newspapers in Western Australia, it is my belief that our readers understand the importance of community-based media coverage.

The engagement the newspaper receives online and through letters, photos, feedback and news tip-offs every week is substantial.

Despite personnel changes, the Mail will continue to represent and advocate for Mandurah and the Peel region - I've thoroughly enjoyed being part of the journey over the last two years.

Gareth McKnight is the outgoing editor of the Mandurah Mail and Avon Valley Advocate.