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Newspapers are not fake news: Editorial

Posted 8/15/18

Editor’s note: The Press & Journal is running the following editorial, provided by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, to address attacks on journalists as the “enemy of the …

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Newspapers are not fake news: Editorial

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Editor’s note: The Press & Journal is running the following editorial, provided by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, to address attacks on journalists as the “enemy of the American people.” A free and independent press is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution, and the following reflects our strong stance on the matter.

On May 30, 1783, the Pennsylvania Evening Post and Daily Advertiser published its first daily edition, becoming the first daily newspaper not only in Pennsylvania, but in our young nation. Today, more than 200 daily and weekly newspapers across the commonwealth carry on the ideals of not only that newspaper, but the Constitution and the free press it ensures. Today, we stand with many other newspapers across the country to defend our profession and the communities we serve.

We are NOT Fake News. Journalists pledge to report real, honest and credible news. We go to school to learn how to tell people’s stories, record history, sift through the hazes of propaganda and uncover the truth. We cover the stories and uncover the information everyone in the community needs to make informed decisions on who to vote for, where to eat, and what to buy.

Mistakes are NOT Fake News. Journalists do their best to report truthful information. In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle, sometimes we make a mistake in the rush to sort through conflicting information and tell a story. We then do our best to correct the error and learn from it. This misinformation happens for a variety of reasons, but the mistake is not deliberate nor is it malicious.

News you don’t like is NOT Fake News. Not all news is happy news. We cover the tragedies, the crime, the tax hikes, the shady backroom deals. Just because it makes us uncomfortable, or angry, doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Journalists would not be doing their jobs if they didn’t cover the things that unsettle us. Many times, those are the things that impact our lives the most.

Opinions are NOT Fake News. The editorials and op-eds we write and publish are just that — opinion. You may agree with us, or you may not. That’s OK. Our job is to provide you with the facts so you can form your own opinion and make your own informed decisions.

Journalists are NOT the enemy of the people. We are the people. We live in the communities we cover and, just like everyone else, want those communities to succeed. For communities to be at their best, the people who live in them need to know what is happening. Journalists are the eyes, ears and voice of the people we serve. We sit at the school board meetings so you know who the next principal will be. We attend the borough council meetings so you know which company is building in your backyard. We ask tough questions of government officials so you know where and how your tax dollars are being spent.

For every candidate we investigate, there’s a small business owner we profile. For every tax hike we report, there’s a high school football/basketball/soccer win we celebrate. For every congressman we question, there’s a charitable event we share. There is nothing fake about the communities, the people, the businesses we cover. There is nothing fake about our loyalty to those same communities, people and businesses.

We are not perfect. We know that. We also know that the news we provide can play a vital role in keeping our communities safe and economically sound. We cannot allow our leaders to erode the public’s trust in the media. Doing so would also erode the quality of information you receive, affecting the decisions you make.

The First Amendment is just 45 words, but they are mighty. It guarantees our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Journalists are your safety valves, whistleblowers and reporters-in-chief who cover everything from what is going on in your town, to the cat stuck in the tree. And, we are passionate about our duties to document the history of our communities and serve as watchdogs to protect the public’s interests … your interests.