I’ve put a lot of sweat equity the past 31 years into getting the story and getting it right.
There’s no telling how many times my journalism teacher at the University of North Alabama told us – “Get your facts straight.”
And if we had any inkling at all that we did not have them right, check them and check them again.
It’s about the truth. It’s about integrity. It’s about serving our readers to the best of our ability and, of course, that includes being correct in the news we print.
At our recent Mississippi Press Association Convention, the overriding topic was fake news. It’s a term that has come to the forefront recently, particularly with the explosion of social media.
It seems everyone thinks they are reporters. It’s easy now for anyone to pass along information, whether right or wrong. And quite frankly, that bothers me.
Here are a few comments from panel members during a session on fake news at our recent press convention.
Spinning the news or putting out alternative facts is a true danger. And often the public does not understand what is or isn’t a legitimate news source.
Take a step back and ask, “Is it the truth? Is it factual?”
To the journalists in the audience, each panelist emphasized the importance of fact checking. And they emphasized the importance of overall good journalism. It’s the central discipline of our craft.
There is a book, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, titled “The Elements of Journalism.” It lists 10 elements common to good journalism.
The first three are – journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth; its first loyalty is to citizens; and its essence is a discipline of verification.
I can assure you that at this community newspaper, we work hard to report the facts. We strive each week to earn the public’s trust.
We go to the proper sources for our news and if we have questions as we in turn write those reports, we follow up. If we are unsure, we call. We check it out.
And then we proofread – not once but typically two or three times.
And, yes, we still make mistakes. But it’s not because of lack of effort. It’s typically because we are human and we just missed it as part of our proofreading.
I’ve made a few huge mistakes since I’ve been in this business of reporting the news. And those errors were tough pills for me to swallow. But I simply ran corrections, admitted my mistakes, and moved on.
The South Reporter, in business since 1865, has striven to factually cover this community for 152 years. It’s a rich tradition the current staff does not take lightly.
Our job at the newspaper is simply journalism. It’s not fabricating the news or sensationalizing.
The fakery coming from many so-called news sources these days bothers me. That’s because I’ve helped send about 2,000 newspapers to print since I took my first full-time job in this business in 1986. And I take pride in each paper produced.
And to you, the readers of The South Reporter, we thank you for your trust.