It's rather late on a Thursday afternoon in The Examiner office when an email arrives in the general inbox.
At 550 words with just one full-stop in the middle, the message has an air of desperation. It makes for difficult reading.
The message is from a Devonport mother at her wit's end. For six years, she has been urging Housing Tasmania to investigate maintenance issues in her home, fearing an underlying cause for her child's severe respiratory condition.
When a hole under the bathroom linoleum is finally looked into, black mould is found eating away at the floor, at the walls, and working its way down hallways and into bedrooms. The house must be condemned, but even with knowledge of the acute health risks, Housing Tasmania had only offered a hotel room for the family of eight.
"I'm stuck and don't know what to do or who to talk to or go to for help," the email from Emma Randall, pictured, above, finishes. "I thought if it's not worth being a story you might have a clue on who I can talk to about my situation."
Her message to The Examiner was her final plea for help, coming at the end of yet another day without answers.
The instant we raised her case with Housing Tasmania, there was action. The family was offered more suitable accommodation while the house was rebuilt from the ground up. After six years living in a mould-infested house, they finally had relief.
It's a sad fact that many regional journalists know all too well. We know the frustration of seeing so many people struggling to get answers to their issues, or being treated like their problems don't matter, until the moment a journalist asks a question on their behalf. Take a business owner in the Launceston CBD for example. He was facing a four-month wait for an NBN connection, until The Examiner put in a query. He was connected that same week.
Or Eleonore Wells, of Prospect. She didn't know where to turn when she was given a $163,000 Centrelink debt, so she contacted the local paper. Last month, she had the debt significantly slashed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
It makes you think: the fear of bad publicity is a more powerful tool than the need to simply do what's right in the first place. It also makes you think of just how many voiceless people there are in our community, suffering in silence.
This is just one reason why local media is so important. We don't want a pat on the back simply for asking a question, or holding someone to account. Journalism has enough self-congratulations as it is. The local media fills that void in our society, ensuring people aren't falling through the cracks, while enhancing that sense of community.
So when we attend press conferences, it's not just an individual journalist standing there. We are representing the many thousands of people in Northern Tasmania, effectively acting as a megaphone to ask their questions to those in power. And if a politician refuses to answer, it's not just the people in the room who are being ignored.
Even more importantly, we celebrate the victories with you and we highlight the successes with you.
This mindset is the reason why The Examiner has stood the test of time, celebrating its 178th birthday on Friday. The newspaper has evolved for every era and generation, from being an all-encompassing bulletin in colonial times, to posting the latest breaking news online and on social media, making it more accessible than ever.
The threats to journalism seem to grow each year, but the essential role of local media endures - and we are forever grateful to our readers, subscribers and advertisers for supporting what we do.