MY TIME at Northside People was the single most important training I could ever have hoped for as a journalist.
I spent almost two years proudly covering the area of Dublin I grew up in for the Northside People, during which time I reported on everything from missing parrots to exiled Palestinian militants.
The most important role for a local paper is to help keep a community in touch with itself and provide a voice for people who would otherwise struggle to be heard. Dublin should be proud to have a newspaper staffed by people who push themselves each week to make sure this happens.
I could never understate how important I think local newspapers are for a healthy democracy: to hold councils to account; query planning applications; and keep politicians in touch with the people they represent.
I will never forget my excitement the first time I had a front page story. Somehow I remained unfazed by the fact that editor Jack Gleeson had given it the wrong byline, incorrectly calling me Brian Jennings.
I dread to recall those long, boring Fridays bashing out the property section but I still boast about how my stories were referenced as far afield as the New York Times - all thanks to the encouragement I received from the editor to chase up local angles to every story.
Since then Iíve been lucky enough to break some stories that have travelled around the world and like many other young Irish people Iíve left the country to pursue my career.
Iíve worked the final night at News of the World in London and even made some international TV appearances after discovering a plot to put missiles on the roof of my apartment.
But I wouldnít have made it here without the experience I gained at my local paper.
ē Brian Whelan is Irish editor of Yahoo in London