In spite of efforts by the mainstream media to totally ignore some things which need reporting and beat to death some things which don’t deserve so much attention, journalism still matters. Especially at a weekly community newspaper.
You may not want to know about the latest ribbon cutting or who made honor roll at the school, but there are some people who want to know these things. Both items are accomplishments and something which deserve recognition. Perhaps the business owner having the ribbon cutting, is fulfilling a lifelong dream. The child on the honor roll may not ever have their name in the paper again, but they did at least once.
Community newspapers are writing the history of the community. When covering a boring meeting that goes on forever and nothing seems to get accomplished, I remind myself of that fact. The very fact that meeting was held is part of the community’s history.
When people come into the office to research information and sometimes find very little, I remind myself we need to make sure those things are included so there will be some kind of record.
Community newspapers and the journalism with it are important. The people in the community are important and that’s why the newspaper matters.
In this week’s edition are the constitutional amendments which will be on the November ballot. Grab a copy and read them so you will know what you are voting on when you step up to cast your ballot.
Not everything we report is fun or easy or positive. Sometimes things are said in meetings or done which the public needs to know that are not in a positive light. Even local officials sometimes say the wrong thing. When we report it, they may be embarrassed or wished they hadn’t said it. You can bet they will think about what they say a little more next time.
In the era of social media and fake news, local journalism takes on an even greater importance. It’s important we get the facts right; it’s important we are covering meetings and it’s important we bring an injustice to light when a governing agency doesn’t want to be forthcoming.
Stories are sometimes heart-wrenching and it becomes hard to remove ourselves from it but we do it the best we can. But those stories must be covered. It’s important they are reported.
We ask questions and sometimes don’t get answers or get told, no one cares about the answer. When we request information and get treated as if we have just asked for something too personal, we have to wonder why the response was like that. As the Fourth Estate, we are watchdogs for the community. I have always told my reporters to follow the money. The money belongs to the taxpayer and we have to make sure it is being spent properly.
If left unchecked, government gets out of control. When we get a tip about malfeasance, we owe it to the community to check it out and report it. If it turns out there’s nothing there, then that’s even better. We aren’t waiting for the other shoe to drop and get the goods on somebody. It’s just part of the job to investigate allegations.
A free press – newspapers as part of that — serve as a check on the power of government. Our newspaper is not part of the fake news society. I’ve said it before, we don’t have time to fabricate news because we are too busy covering real stories in our community.
I take the job seriously as being the eyes, ears and yes, the voice of the people. Myself and my employees are your friends and neighbors and some of you may even be related to one of us. We are dedicated to do the best we can do in providing you news on the community.
That job has gotten harder as some people think posting something to social media is enough. It’s not. Not everyone stares at social media every day all day long. You can’t clip social media and put it on your fridge, or put it in a scrapbook.
our editorial page is a code of ethics for journalists. It doesn’t have to be on that page or anywhere else in the newspaper, but it’s important for us to remind ourselves we are accountable and we need to minimize any harm from our reporting.
We are not part of the mainstream media, yet we feel as if we are under attack as well. I can understand the president feeling as if they are his enemy, but here at the Georgia Post, we are not anyone’s enemy. We get taken for granted in the communities and though we don’t do it for the money or for the recognition, there are sometimes when everyone else in the room is recognized and we are left out, we wonder what we did wrong.
We want to be a part of what’s right in the community and shedding light on the positive, though we have to report the negative as well. When I first went into journalism, I wanted to make a difference. That is still in the back of my mind, though perhaps not as strong as it was back then because of being beaten down through the years but people who didn’t get a newspaper’s purpose.
We depend on advertising and subscriptions to keep going and our costs rise just like everyone else and we have to cover those costs. We are a small local business that contributes to the local economy. It’s National Newspaper Week so be a little kinder to your local journalist. Thank you.
VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org