Reporters have many questions — but lately one question keeps bouncing back at them:
“How much does this story cost?”
Instead of getting huffy along the lines of “my principles cannot be bought, sir!” we remind journalists all the time that our job is just like any other — with its own jargon, procedures and governing principles — things no one outside our business should be expected to know.
(Plus some other media organizations do engage in pay-for-play “reporting,” which muddies the waters. Some organizations charge for a story or require an ad purchase; we don’t.)
No, our job is just like any other — and we already know the pitfalls of assumptions.
But as we head to November 2019, and the hot steam engine chugs toward 2020, it’s important to speak often about how we work — especially in regard to politics and political advertising.
We don’t print anything hateful or threatening to people or groups of people — this includes in advertising and letters to the editor.
Freedom of the press means that we, as owners of a press, must be free from government interference to gather and report the news.
Everyone benefits from a free press — we use ours to keep the watch and inform our communities. But we aren’t required to publish anything against our own standards.
Also, we all enjoy our First Amendment privileges in our country. But the freedom of expression doesn’t require us to publish material outside our policy.
This doesn’t mean that we must agree with something to print it. No indeed.
We believe that diversity of opinion is healthy and should be respected and cherished.
We are forever extolling the virtues of transparency, objectivity and fairness.
But its imperative that we talk about our own process early and often, and make sure we’re open to the questions that are asked of us.