Your local newspaper is trustworthy.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s perfect or that he never makes mistakes.
How do you know who to trust when it comes to news and information?
Trust is the currency of a legitimate news source.
Reliability consists of accurate reporting, paying attention to detail and adhering to the highest journalistic standards for reporters and editors.
Defending press freedom, religious expression, free speech, and the rights of the public to petition and protest should just 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 political party or ideology.
Regular explanatory journalism should inform the public about free speech rights and public remedies.
Good reporting gives a voice to the voiceless.
Holding public officials accountable through strong reporting and the publication of strong editorials are essential for an open and free society. Freedom depends on it. We can never assume that every local government agency fully complies with our state’s Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act.
Here are some of the main differences between authentic and credible newspapers and fake social media reports or fake “news” sites.
— Trustworthy media coverage includes verifiable sources of information, names that readers will recognize or can easily verify.
— Trustworthy articles contain multiple sources, not just a single source with a diary.
— Trustworthy coverage is not agenda-driven, and trustworthy websites are not isolated to single issues, serving as mere partisan mouthpieces.
— Trustworthy news sites have legitimate URLs, ending in .com, .net, .org, etc.
— Trustworthy articles are published with bylines and dates, specifying the names of reporters and editors that can be easily identified and verified.
— Trusted sources of information correct errors in an open, transparent and visible manner.
Of course, journalists and editors make mistakes.
And, they correct them.
This is in no way a defense of all so-called media, nor a defense of the talking heads of cable television who prefer to pontificate rather than report.
But it’s not your local newspaper which is just local reporters, people you know, covering meetings, attending events, interviewing your neighbors and sharing their stories.
Jim Zachary is Editor-in-Chief of the Valdosta Daily Times, Director of Newsroom Training and Development at CNHI, and Chairman Emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.