One of the messages I received that I was most chuffed about was when I stepped down as editor of the Impartial Reporter 10 years ago; I was grateful that the card described the paper as a “great vehicle for community cohesion.”

I think it sums up what a local newspaper should be all about. A good paper reflects the community it serves, but that should mean all aspects of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. The old journalistic mantra to “tell it like it is” means pleasing some people, annoying others and as a friend once said, “We journalists like to say we’re getting to the truth but that can sometimes mean hurting people.”

And anyway, as Pilate said in the Bible, what is truth. Everyone seems to have their own truth in today’s world of social media and a plethora of publications and broadcast outlets which enables anyone to find a version of the truth that suits them. Trust in the media is probably as low as I have seen it for a long time.

I’ve always believed, and continue to believe, that the local press is particularly close to its community and has an important role to play in giving a voice to people who wouldn’t otherwise have one. “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.”

Ok, I’m biased, and the cynics may scoff, but the Impartial Reporter has a long record of doing that for nearly 200 years.

I have a long association with “the Impartial” going back to the 1960s as a boy when my mother sent me out on a Wednesday afternoon to get it as soon as it hit the shop; in those days it was printed on the Wednesday in Enniskillen. I always remember her turning to the death notices first before scouring the rest of the paper; an early lesson in realising that different readers have different priorities.

Sadly, she wasn’t around to see me entering the doors of the Impartial in East Bridge Street in 1973 after a friend there, Colin Greaves thought I might make a journalist.

It wasn’t long until I was imbued with principles of the Impartial.

Founded in 1825 by William Trimble, his first editorial included this: “We shall defend the Protestant when we consider him in the right, and the Roman Catholic may expect similar treatment; but should bigotry, superstition, and error raise their audacious fronts and attempt to trample on truth, like any other Enniskillener, the Impartial Reporter shall point out the way that leads to triumph.”

William Trimble was determined and single-minded, a crusading journalist who fought the case for tenant farmers often treated poorly by the absentee English landlords. The title Impartial originally came from taking an unbiased stance of fairness between the two.

Between 1825 and 1967, the paper was under the owner-editorship of Trimble, his son William Copeland Trimble and then his son, William Egbert Trimble; a remarkable record of three men over 142 years.

When Bertie Trimble died in 1967, the Impartial passed to his daughters Joan and Valerie and Joan took on the role of Managing Director despite initially having her own career in London. She would later return to Enniskillen to continue running the paper and was in charge when I joined in 1973.

Jimmy Baker was a supportive editor and John Switzer was General Manager. But there was no doubting who the driving force was. And no wonder; on my numerous calls to Joan Trimble on my way home to discuss that week’s edition, from her anecdotes of her father picking up stories as he walked around town to her sage advice about the importance of people, I learned the newspaper business.

She was a formidable woman. One day, around the anniversary of the JFK assassination, she asked me if I remembered where I was when Kennedy was shot. “Yes, actually, I do. I recall vividly being in my aunt’s house in Cornagrade when the news came through on television.”

“People say that” she replied. “But for some reason, I don’t. However, I do remember where I was when Michael Collins was shot and I remember the atmosphere and the talk among the adults about the trouble it would cause,” she replied. Considering she would have been just seven years old, it was quite an awareness for a young child.

Joan Trimble was succeeded in the role of Managing Director by her daughter, Joanna McVey, another leader in her own right who, I felt, took over at a providentially perfect time when her business and interpersonal skills were vital in taking the company forward. She realised the importance of strong independent local journalism to the local area, and her support for the local community was evident in her setting up of the Fermanagh Trust.

Her support for our journalism was unwavering, often in the face of pressure from local business or political figures.

By this time, I had succeeded by friend and mentor, Mervyn Dane as editor, Joanna was supported on the board by her sister Caroline and Colin Greaves, sales director.

If this sounds less of a column this week and more of a trip down memory lane then so be it; I feel it illustrates that throughout its history, the role of people in leading the Impartial has been vital in the paper’s importance to the community. And by the way, as someone once chided me, we’re not two communities. We’re one community of two traditions.

As I write, I think of many others in the newsroom, photography, advertising, production and front office whose commitment has contributed to the success over the years of this great institution.

It wasn’t always easy. My years on the paper were dominated by the Troubles and reporting on some awful times when it was vital to give everyone a voice. Indeed, I often think of the fact that today’s younger readers knew nothing about those dark days, and having observed that period up close it is one of my great motivations to keep building bridges so that we never return there.

Today’s challenges for the people of this area are different. It occurred to me that my years on the paper from 1973 to 2013 were all during our membership of the European Union (or EEC) and today we’re suffering from the mess of Brexit.

The Impartial tradition continued after I left and both Sarah Saunderson and Mark Conway continued to carry brilliantly the flame as editor.

And now, Rodney Edwards whom I had the pleasure of working alongside has returned from his time at the Sunday Independent to take up the reins. He is a top-notch journalist with a real passion for the paper. Already, we’re seeing that the paper is giving voice to people suffering from many issues of poverty and unfairness, and full marks for innovations such as new columnists Brian D’arcy, Bernadette McAliskey and Arlene Foster.

Despite the naysayers, it’s right to give voice to them all and plenty of others.

The relaunch of the new-look paper this week feels like another moment in time, another moment in the Impartial’s history. At a time when people are predicting the demise of newspapers, it’s a superb sign of confidence in the future. A sign that newspapers are still relevant to the community and that local journalism can use different formats, traditional print and new digital to serve its readers for years to come.

I wish Rodney and his staff well and have no doubt that this is the start of something, not the end.

I can’t imagine what William Trimble would make of the technological world of newspapers today compared to the primitive wooden presses of 1825. But people are still important and the words of his first editorial seem as relevant and important as ever.