Newspapers doing right things in right ways distinguish themselves in three principle ways:
– Defending the First Amendment
– Championing Open Government
– Distinguishing between what they do and what is commonly called “fake news.”
What newspapers do has always been important and has always mattered, but it has never been more important or mattered more than it does now.
Credibility is the currency of legitimate news sources.
The media makes itself credible by accurate reporting, paying attention to detail and holding the very highest journalistic standards for all its reporters and editors.
Defending the First Amendment
Championing the freedom of the press, religious expression, the freedom of speech and the rights of the public to petition and protest should simply be what newspapers do, day in and day out.
Editorial pages should always be a robust marketplace of ideas, encouraging public dialogue and not reflecting any one political party or ideology.
Regular explanatory journalism should inform the public about free speech rights and public recourse.
Good reporting gives a voice to the voiceless.
Championing Open Government
Any newspaper that does not champion open government, demanding transparency is not adequately serving its community.
Holding public officials accountable through solid reporting and publishing strong editorials is essential to an open and free society. Liberty depends on it. We can never just assume every local government agency is in full compliances with our state’s Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act.
Battling the Perception of Fake News
Regardless of personal politics, everyone must acknowledge the media is under attack.
The expression “fake news,” is unfortunate and the term itself inaccurate. If it’s fake it’s not news, and if it’s real news it’s not fake.
Here are some of the primary differences between bona fide, credible newspapers and spurious reports on social media or faux “news” sites.
- Credible news coverage includes verifiable news sources, names readers will recognize or that they can easily verify
- Credible articles contain multiple sources, not just a single source with an agenda
- Credible coverage is not agenda driven, and reliable websites are not isolated to single issues, serving as mere partisan mouthpieces
- Credible news sites have legitimate URLs, ending in .com, .net, .org, etc.
- Credible articles are published with bylines and datelines, specifying the names of reporters and editors who can be easily identified and verified
- Credible news sources correct mistakes in an open and transparent way