Michelle Mann

It was a social media post that hurt my heart.

A woman asked — online — why a particular media source chose to essentially sensationalize a recent incident at a school in which all the adults involved clearly went “above and beyond” to protect the students involved.

The woman thanked the adults involved and questioned why the news source chose to interview the person they did instead of a person in authority or at least knowledgeable about the facts in the situation.

Good question.

Also recently in the “news” was a resignation letter of a disgruntled municipal employee. That was a headline? Why?

As a person with newsprint in my veins, those questions hurt my heart.

Ethical journalism is accurate and fair. Journalists should—by moral instinct—take responsibility for the accuracy of their work.

As journalists we are observers. It is our job to watch and report. Someone said once that news reporting is the first draft of history. We take that responsibility seriously.

Seek truth and report it. Minimize harm. Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Be accountable and transparent. That’s the short version of what journalists are charged with doing every day according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

We go a step further and strive to avoid subjective adjectives or adverbs in a news story. A glass is not half empty or half full. A 12-inch tall glass contains 6-inches of a substance.

By inserting an adjective or an adverb, the writer is inserting an opinion in what is supposed to be just fact.

That truism is the bare bone basics of the real journalism that we, at The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun Courier, strive to bring you every day because you deserve that from your community newspapers.

A citizen survey commissioned by the city of Enterprise several years ago revealed that newspapers are the primary source of information about city issues, services and events for 65 percent of the citizens. That was followed by 37 percent and 26 percent of the citizens who said they receive their information by television and radio, respectively.

While we value and and are humbled by the citizen vote of confidence, as print journalists we realize that we have an advantage over our electronic media friends because we have the opportunity to recount the event in greater detail than a one-minute sound bite or video clip.

And as journalists, we strive to keep a professional distance, to make sure we do not become part of the story or insert our opinions into that story.

For our readers who depend on us to be a credible source of local news and for the advertisers who depend on us to connect them with the local community, we assure you that feedback is one of the most important things we can receive from you.

Community journalism is, by definition, locally owned, locally focused professional news coverage that features our neighbors in our cities rather than the national or world news. We take the commitment to “community” seriously.

Our mission is to publish a reputable and profitable community newspaper. We believe in the public’s right to know and the right of free speech and press.

We will not post or publish a story unless we are prepared to stand behind it. At The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun Courier, we take responsibility for the accuracy of each article we write. We put our names and our email addresses on each article we write.

We believe that strong community newspapers build strong communities.

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.com.

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