I'm going to warn you right now — this article is somewhat self-serving. Now that that's out of the way, let me begin.
Over the last year or so the prevalence of "fake news" has really shed a light on the importance of good journalism. But what is journalism in today's media and how does it differ from year's past? While complex, let me try to answer.
Local vs. National
It's quite easy to lump local media with the rhetoric that surrounds large national and global media outlets — but don't. That's not our gig. We've been accused of leaning too far in both directions. However, I assure you that we approach our job with the intent to bring attention to the most important stories that affect the local communities we serve and empower our readers with information to help them make informed decisions and stay on top of breaking events — not to provide a single-sided look at a specific issue.
Sure, we've offered support, such as last year's endorsement of Measure C, but we did so after reviewing the information and believing a "yes" vote outweighed the "no" vote in making the community better for the future. We also felt that even though we were supportive of the measure, it was our obligation to publish information that didn't support the measure. You the reader should know both sides and decide for your self. This somewhat brings me to my next point…
Opinion vs. News
If you're still reading this column, I want to point out that what you're reading is opinion. Don't get this confused with news. Although there are many types of journalism, at its core is the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing or broadcasting news.
For our news team, their primary focus is to find things out that are going on in the community, verify the facts that are associated with them, and then publish them to a specific platform. The fundamental approach is to tell good stories that our readers find interesting and they know have been vetted. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely. But what our team does as journalists should not be lumped in with opinion.
Opinion can be powerful and important. However, standing on its own, it's not enough. Opinion pieces are usually submitted by people who are deeply involved in the issues that they have a vested interest in. Many times these people don't have enough time to go to all the meetings or do the research but are educated enough on the topic to provide a back drop of context. Many people can take this context as matter of fact, which can be a dangerous road in today's society. In some circumstances, without facts or vetted information, opinion is hollow and the readers should not be so quick to trust.
With so much of what's perceived as "news" nowadays being user-generated submissions, it really boils down to being a responsible consumer. That means it's up to the reader to find a purveyor of news and information they can trust and help them make informed decisions. Which is maybe to say: it's your duty of being a good citizen and providing due diligence in being an invested member of your community and society.
I realize what I just stated somewhat contradicts this article — as it is opinion. But what I'm hoping this does is shed light on what it actually takes to produce news that people can trust, which is what I want to leave you with.
Contributors & Costs
Contributors are people who supply additional content that may supplement the content being created by the news organization. They may be a professional in their field or someone who supplies articles on an infrequent basis — but generally they are supplying interesting information that the audience finds value in.
Typically they are not paid employees (although some are freelance writers) and how we get to the end process is different. A similar process is done to vet content by contributors, but not to the same extent as our paid journalists.
Our paid staff is a team of tremendous writers. I'm proud of our team. I'd encourage you to be proud of them too. They tell the stories of your children's sports. They tell how your business fits into the community. They share the personalities of the people who shape the community.
All of these things come at a cost, as I'm sure you can assume. Take advantage of this information. But don't take advantage of the people producing it. I encourage you to continue to support local journalism and specifically the team here at the Tribune. This can be done in a variety of different ways.
When you contact our reporters with a news tip, you're supporting local journalism. When you market your business with the Tribune's print and digital offerings, you're supporting local journalism.
Those are just a couple ways, but no matter what it may be, our goal will still be the same: continue our pursuit toward responsible journalism and find new ways to produce content that our readers find engaging and supports our local community.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.