EARLIER this week the colossus of journalism that is the Radio 4 Today anchor John Humphrys announced he was retiring.

Obviously there should be a law against it but there isn’t. Which means that sometime in 2019 he will not be broadcasting from Broadcasting House.

He won’t be skewering some forked-tongue politician, or duffing up some greedy captain of industry, or pricking the pomposity, eliciting the truth and asking the questions everyone dreads having to answer.

The fact that you can practically hear the champagne corks popping from Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington pad tells you everything you need to know.

When they’re scared of talking to you, you know you’re doing a good job. Just like, when both sides in an argument accuse you of being in hock to or ‘supporting’ the other side, you know you’ve probably got it about right.

Being a journo is a bit like being Millwall Football Club.

And having done it for more than 30 years now, you tend to realise it’s not for the faint-hearted. How can it be when journos have to sit in a court and hear, very precisely, just how Fred and Rose West murdered their poor victims. (Clue: far, far worse than anything newspapers deemed it advisable to print.)

Or, like Marie Colvin, the very best of us, you are murdered with a missile deliberately targeted at you because you were reporting the sordid truth of the Syrian regime.

As journalists we don’t expect anyone to sympathise, of course. Why should they? We chose this job, simply because, for most of us, despite the so-so pay and horrendous hours there is nothing else really worth doing. I tried being a PR account manager once – the boredom nearly killed me.

But it would be nice if people understood more, what journalists and reporters actually do.

Because then they might understand that far from being some nebulous ‘elite’ the criticism de nos jours, far from being some evil entity hell-bent on destroying certain politicians, far from being a force for bad, what we do is vital to the proper functioning of a modern democracy. And far from being ‘better’ without us, the world would be immeasurably darker.

Why? Because we’re the people who’ll tell you about corruption at the local council and see the story through to the end. We’re the people who sit in court and report on the crims and scumbags who’ve made people’s lives a misery and on cases that sometimes the very powerful would rather slipped under the radar.

We also try and let people know about new groups, charitable initiatives, shops closing, shops opening, and what’s going on with the local NHS.

We know it’s a valuable service and so do our lovely readers who buy the paper every day. Thanks to the Essex MP Robert Halfon we also know what it’s like when papers don’t exist – he said only this week that elderly constituents whose local newspaper had closed down and who weren’t online had started ringing his office because they felt so isolated.

I can already imagine the comments this piece will receive online, from the army of folk who read our paper without paying for it. But what does bother me is the creeping attitude amongst those I had always thought would know better - politicians and members of the public - who, whenever we print something they don’t agree with, or, in the case of the Blessed John Humphrys, ask a politician a tough question - accuse us of bias. The phrase these people like to spit out is MSM – Twitter-speak for ‘mainstream media’ - and it is essentially a form of abuse which means ‘any journalist or broadcaster who says something I don’t agree with’. It fosters the ridiculous view that somehow, out there with the unicorns, there is another media where their man or woman or cause will get the fluffy ride they think it deserves.