Recent conversations with journalism and mass media students give me hope. The same goes for updates from college and university faculty members and reporters, editors and producers of our Alabama-based newspapers, television newscasts and multimedia outlets.
As we’ve spoken with representatives from our Alabama Baptist schools and our public schools through our partnership with the Alabama Press Association, we hear from them about the importance of a source of information reliable.
It is comforting to know that the ethics of professional journalism are taught and embraced, to know that the next generation understands the importance of seeking the truth, checking facts and countering false rumours.
As the way news is shared continues to change, the fundamentals of accuracy, fairness, clarity and integrity must remain.
Another encouraging aspect we discovered underscores the value of relationships, something we truly understand as believers. No matter how often we study the latest trends in culture, we always come back to the importance of authentic and consistent relationships. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is a precious commodity.
Research groups such as Knight, Pew and others continue to report how community newspapers and local television stations (combined with digital versions of each) outperform national news year after year.
According to the National Newspaper Association, a survey conducted in March by Susquehanna Polling and Research Inc. found that local newspapers ranked high when it came to informing the general reader (93% agreeing), providing shopping information and advertising (81% agree) and share local news (83% agree).
As a growing number of national media sources have lost the trust of many consumers, we can be encouraged by the work taking place in our communities.
Local media isn’t perfect, but it really cares about the communities where it exists and is closer to people’s daily lives. It brings us back to trust and relationships because the people who work to understand and report the news of the day are our neighbors. They are our friends and often community leaders.
It may not always look like it, but solid reporting is happening across the state by media professionals who work hard to follow the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics: seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.
The Alabama Baptist is proud to be a trusted source of information. Our team is also looking for ways to invest in the next generation and encourage our peers across the state.
National media will soon return if we help them understand how harmful the consumption of content created with motives outside the bounds of traditional media ethics is. It has the potential to create exaggerated fear, anger and hostility. It changes us.
Here are some tips for determining if your favorite news source might need to be muted for a while:
- If your blood pressure rises and stays high.
- If you know how the reporter sharing the information feels about the situation and/or if the reporter tells you how you should feel about the situation rather than strictly reporting the news with credible sources outside of themselves.