Editorial: Consider the source when it comes to news
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 4:08pm
When you feel your child is threatened, it is only natural to react with emotion. This newspaper has never suggested anyone should refrain from doing what they personally feel is in the best interest of their loved ones.
What we have done and will continue to do is recommend that all people do their best to remain calm and rational in moments of crisis. Attempt to use your best judgment, unclouded by the haze of fear and anger to distinguish truth from rumor, and refrain from spreading gossip, hearsay and high-drama “he said/she said” as fact.
As journalists whose careers are based on public trust we feel the burden of truth with sharp clarity. There are often rumors and innuendo that we cannot report on because we do not have the evidence to back up the stories. Sometimes it is because the evidence is not available and sometimes it is because the rumors were simply not true.
The news we release, whether it be in print or on a digital platform, is backed up by credible sources who have either the credentials, the experience or the track record for honesty. Whenever possible, we corroborate accounts by multiple trustworthy witnesses.
In today’s social-media age all professional journalists are confronted with the challenge of competing for your attention with posts by every other citizen out there. This is a good thing as there is more information than ever available, however what it does is force each of us to look closely at the source of the news we engage with and look even closer at our own biases and predispositions to make sure that we are not just accepting possibly tainted information that supports the beliefs we already have while ignoring what contradicts them.
In essence, social media should make us all more conscientious of the news we consume, whether it be from bloggers, established journalists, networks, think tanks, spin doctors or the lady down the street.
It was recommended by a commenter on our Facebook page that we disclose the familial connections between our newspaper editor and publisher, Parish Howard, and Jefferson County School Superintendent Molly Howard (his mother) and brother, Matt Howard, who is assistant principal at JCHS. We have done so in the past and feel that most residents are well aware of these connections.
His original employment with this newspaper pre-dates his mother’s position as both Superintendent and even her former position as principal of Jefferson County High School or his brother’s employment with the school system.
That being said, we are well aware of the potential for the appearance of impropriety, and so, in most cases another reporter is assigned coverage of Jefferson County School Board matters. As there is currently only one full time writer in addition to our editor’s position, simple availability and resources do demand that if issues that are important and pertinent to our readers are going to be covered in a timely and thorough manner, then his reporting must also be relied upon to help cover public education in our newspaper.
It comes down to whether you trust us or you do not. That is a personal decision we hope you make using both your own best judgment as well as the preponderance of evidence. We believe that over our publisher’s last 25 years in this industry, the vast majority of which were spent working for this newspaper, his track record for diligence, truthfulness, fair and even coverage and unimpeachable integrity speak for themselves.
Our community is a small one. You do not have to look far to find elected officials who are employed or who have spouses or family members who are employed by other local governmental entities, boards, committees, etc. It should not be surprising to learn that family members often share the same fundamental values, particularly the importance of service to one’s community. We are all connected to each other, if not by birth, then by shared responsibility for each other. There’s no reason these connections have to compromise our integrity. We believe they just makes it stronger.