Thursday, October 18, 2018

In promoting journalism as essential, let's not forget it has problems with bias and misinformation, rural editor writes

If your newspaper took note last week of National Newspaper Week, did your editorial, column or other material acknowledge that while "journalism matters, now more than ever," as the week's theme had it, journalism also has some issues? Some did not, and Sharon Burton noticed.

Burton is editor and publisher of The Farmer's Pride, Kentucky's statewide agricultural newspaper, and the Adair County Community Voice in her hometown of Columbia. She stands tall for good, watchdog journalism, as evidenced by her Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism by a Kentuckian and her work that has been excerpted on The Rural Blog. She promoted Newspaper Week, but with caveats.

"I tend to disagree that journalism matters now more than ever," Burton wrote. "I think it has always mattered. The industry is on the defensive, however, and part of that comes from the barrage of accusations of 'fake news' and a president who said he considers 80 percent of the press to be the 'enemy of the people.' In all of the articles I have read concerning National Newspaper Week, I have yet to see anyone in the industry admit that we do have problems with bias and misinformation.

"Let me first say that I do think we have some house-cleaning we need to do. There have been inaccurate stories in several large newspapers across the country and there is plenty of one-sided news on television every single day. There are also, however, a whole lot of hardworking, honest journalists out there covering the news and doing everything they can to ask the hard questions and be a watchdog for the people."

Burton concluded by thanking her readers for subscribing (she competes with The Adair Progress, also a weekly) and summing up the reason for Newspaper Week: "Journalism may not be done perfectly, but this nation would be ill served were journalism not allowed, encouraged, and supported by our citizens."

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