During the Napoleonic Wars whenever Bonaparte conquered a country, this Emperor of France, who knew the power of the press, quickly ordered that the newspaper offices of the defeated cities be taken over so that he could control the dissemination of information in favor of his military campaign and perspectives. Unfortunately, this method is still used today in various countries as many forms of news media dissemble and print politically slanted stories, reporting what is often called “fake news.” As you can imagine, this goes against the intention of journalism altogether, since it’s intended to educate not influence.

Local Journalists Must Report Objectively

Although subscriptions to nationally distributed newspapers have dropped, citizens often continue to purchase their local newspapers because they want to stay informed on news about local businesses, citizens, and upcoming events. And, because local journalists are personally known in towns, they are often entrusted with a significant role in the community.

Because of the townspeople’s faith in their local journalists, it is important that these writers report objectively on both local and national news. At the University of North Carolina researchers recently reported, “Our sense of community and our trust in democracy at all levels suffer when [true] journalism is lost or diminished.” Underscoring this report, Suzanne Moore, editor of the Press-Republican in Plattsburgh, New York, observes, “If people can’t have confidence in the media, that’s a pretty sad state of affairs.”

Journalists Must Maintain Standards

To be transparent and ethical are the highest standards of a journalist. In the Journalist’s Code of Ethics, the first and second rules are as follows:

  • To consider the publication of the whole truth as his foremost duty towards society and him/her self.
  • To consider distortion, concealment, falsification and fabrication of real events as both an offense against society and a self-degrading act.

Nowadays, public trust lies more in local news media than in national media. One reason for this trust is the fact that to be economically sustainable, local news outlets must produce quality material that demonstrates their value to communities among which are people of varied political opinions. Truthfulness and objectivity, therefore, are necessary. And, when the journalists juxtapose reliable reports on the activities of the community with their reporting of national news, this news must also be accurate or their credibility will be compromised. By being truthful and objective in their reporting on their community’s activities, local news media can assist their community in making sense of broader ideas and assessing what is also true in national political activities.