Real news is real foundation of democracy
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook would begin prioritizing high-quality news on the social network by allowing its users to rank news sources that they see as the most credible and trustworthy citing “too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today.”
Shortly after this statement was made, the New York Times’ stock jumped nearly 9%, indicating that the public’s interest in Real News has hit the comeback trail. For newspaper companies and newspaper readers across Pennsylvania, it never left.
News media organizations across the Commonwealth have made noticeable changes over the past decade. We launched digital platforms, streamlined processes, and created other efficiencies to better serve our readers. However, what we did not change is our dedication to reporting honest and credible news from the dedicated journalists who live amongst us. It is the bedrock of what newspapers in Pennsylvania stand for today, and will stand for always - and that is a change we will never make. Our dedication as the Fourth Estate is the reason we come to work and cover your community with journalists who care about seeking the truth.
These have been very good journalistic years in this state. The persistent and conscientious efforts of newsrooms, both large and small, has led to safer and more informed communities.
The Bucks County Courier Times’(Levittown) series “Unwell Water” exposed unsafe drinking water from leaking chemicals, forced the U.S. military to admit the truth and led to the closure of scores of public drinking water wells.
LNP’s (Lancaster) investigation into a local school board’s lack of transparency led to county and state probes, pressured the school district to restore arts and music programs that had been cut and forced the superintendent and two school board members to resign.
The Philadelphia Inquirer ‘s “Toxic City” investigation revealed that thousands of Philadelphia children were poisoned by lead paint at a far higher rate than those in Flint, MI, yet they were ignored by city health officials. Reaction to the story caused city and state leaders to increase funding and crack down on dangerous properties.
The Sentinel’s (Carlisle) series on an Interstate 81 shooter’s criminal history found numerous missteps and failings of the criminal justice system that may have contributed to the murder of two people. The stories led to responses from national and state anti-domestic violence groups.
Too often, we were afraid to tout what we do and why we do it, but now is the time to remind all that newspapers matter more than ever. We care that we get it right - or we will own it and make it right if we make a mistake. Rest assured that we never compromise on our core principles given to us via the First Amendment. Great local journalism produced by proud local employees who understand that fact over fiction is our brand now and forever.
Let the others who do this for alternative reasons exit the ‘news’ business. They are clogging the pipelines of truth. We, on the other hand, will move forward and will alter our business model to adapt as most companies do. However, we will not change the demanding effort of fact checking and due diligence necessary to give you the straight-up news and information you can trust. Why would we? We are you – and we, too, demand facts and support real news.
In the end, we applaud the effort of others in helping to identify trustworthy news sites. We also celebrate the fact that there’s no second-guessing required when you read a print or digital newspaper, or visit our corresponding social media pages. The information you’ll find is always credible and trustworthy.
President Lincoln said, “Let the people know the truth and the country is safe.” How poetic – and how timely.
Mark Cohen is President of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association