From the Editor's Desk: New Year for News
Tuesday, January 02 2018, 14:29

From the Editor’s Desk by Dewain E. Peek

Trust in news took a beating this past year, and, unfortunately, it is the result of many in the news business – those who believed that trust is an entitlement of the Fourth Estate instead of something that must be earned.

So many in major media have groused about “fake news” this past year, and I don’t dispute that fake news is out there, but grossly slanted stories, sloppy reporting, and stories with suspicious omissions have eroded trust in what some call “Mainstream Media” or “MSM” – you know, ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, Fox News and the like.

I instead consider most of them as the corporate news industry because large newspapers, such as The Tennessean and Knoxville News-Sentinel, are also corporately owned. With corporate ownership, whether broadcast or print media, comes a distancing from the citizens being served. With that distance can also come the need to feed the bottom lines over serving your audience and fulfilling the duties of a free press.

Though many media corporations want the public to believe they are, to use Fox’s tagline, “Fair and Balanced”, and may even believe they are, the similitude of voices in the corporate setting can cause their media outlets to have a socio-political lean, whether overt or implied.

We have a variety of voices in the newsroom at Overton County News. We have similarities in beliefs on some subjects, and disagreements on others. We are not of one mind, but we are of one purpose – to serve the citizens of Overton County.

Our job is to pass on information that helps you make decisions, and sometimes to let you know your neighbors need help, and our job is also to record events so those in the future will have an accurate reference of what came before.

I believe one big problem in journalism today is the result of journalists being taught to write stories on an 8th grade level. The reasoning being that to cover a vast audience, the readership will have varying degrees of reading ability. I think too many journalists miss this reason because they think the vast majority of their audience is not very smart. Any journalist who thinks that way should get into another profession. If you don’t give your audience credit to understand what you have to say, then whom are you writing for? Are you just writing to make yourself look good to your peers?

I have never subscribed to the view of writing strictly to the 8th grade level, largely because my vocabulary was being built before I reached the 8th grade through a medium that was often looked down upon until recent years – comic books. Though I would no longer recommend comic books because of what they have become, they were much better in my formative years when Stan Lee would use words that made me grab a dictionary, and I learned those words. And now I use many of those words to be precise in my writing. I want to do a good job for those reading the words.

Though some journalists seem to look down upon their audience with an “us” and “them” mentality, this should not be. At OCN, we are here because we live here and we care about this community. We are your friends and neighbors, and what affects you, affects us. This is why we try each week to keep you informed and entertained – accurately.

 
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