"Over the last year or so the prevalence of 'fake news' has really shed a light on the importance of good journalism," writes Publisher Rob Galloway of the Tahoe Daily Tribune in California "But what is journalism in today's media and how does it differ from years past?" What follows is an excellent explainer that breaks down the fundamentals of journalism for readers.
Local journalism is a different animal than national journalism, Galloway writes. Some readers have included local journalists in their dislike of larger news media outlets, but local reporters approach their jobs "with the intent to bring attention to the most important stories that affect the local communities we serve and empower our readers with information to help them make informed decisions and stay on top of breaking events — not to provide a single-sided look at a specific issue," he explains.
News writers focus on covering issues thoroughly and fairly. Opinion pieces, often submitted by concerned members of the community, are no less important, but shouldn't be confused with hard news or the opinions of news reporters.
"With so much of what's perceived as 'news' nowadays being user-generated submissions, it really boils down to being a responsible consumer," Galloway writes. "That means it's up to the reader to find a purveyor of news and information they can trust and help them make informed decisions. Which is maybe to say: it's your duty of being a good citizen and providing due diligence in being an invested member of your community and society."
Galloway encourages readers to give reporters news tips. That's important, because local journalists will tell the stories you won't usually find in nationwide news media outlets.
Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog, praised Galloway's article: "I think every newspaper needs to publish articles like this from time to time, with a condensed version posted online and occasionally on the editorial page, to explain to readers how newspapers and journalism work, the difference in fact and opinion, and the difference in news media, which practice a discipline of verification (through journalism); social media, which have no discipline of verification; and strategic media, which are not as much about information as selling you a good, a service, an idea or a way of thinking."