Comment: Local Newspaper Week 2014 - Why you can trust the Herts Ad more than a news blogger
PUBLISHED: 11:34 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:34 16 May 2014
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the Herts Advertiser is our reputation. People trust the paper, they have been reading it for years, they know its ethos and they can call us to account if we make mistakes.
We might get it wrong at times, but at least you know when we do we’ll hold our hands up and try to put things right.
Surveys have shown that the trust people have in their local newspapers and local radio stations is considerably higher than the trust they have in national newspapers because we are writing day-in and day-out about the things which really affect people – their local community.
But how much trust can you place in a news blogger who does not have to be accountable legally, ethically or morally, and can disappear overnight at the click of a button?
Often these sites are run by individuals who have none of the extensive training which we demand of our journalists, including the laws on defamation and contempt of court, which we rely on to protect both ourselves and our readers.
There’s so much more to journalism than retweeting other people’s content, and we pride ourselves in not taking anything at face value, whether it’s an emailed tip-off or a professional press release.
Local newspapers have the power to make a difference, to act as independent watchdogs holding local government and other powerful institutions accountable and enabling citizens to participate fully in democracy. This is an essential function, much like roads, power and water, and without us the community would be that much poorer.
We don’t make empty promises that we can get things done and effect change, but we will always do our best to make a difference.
Newspapers wield immense power, and it is amazing what a simple phone call to the council or a corporate organisation can do to solve a resident’s long-running problems in a matter of hours. To those people who had no other avenue to turn the local press is an indispensible resource which really can help change lives for the better.
There is no political bias in our news reporting, and our editorial department operates independently of our commercial interests, ensuring we bring you fair and balanced content without any agenda.
Our team of reporters are at the coalface of what’s happening in the local community – you will find them at events, meetings and of course in the Herts Ad’s city centre offices – and are always happy to talk to members of the public.
They aren’t sitting in cafés filing copy to remote offices outside the district, or hiding away in cyberspace offering the odd comment in between automatic retweets. They work and live in the district, and are invested in what’s happening here in the same way that our readers are.
For our reporters, journalism is more than a job, it’s a vocation, and the time and resources we have invested in their training and development ensures they have the skills and tools at their disposal needed to fully represent our community.
While anyone can set up a website and social media account and claim to be a journalist working to further local democracy, we like to think our actions, reputation and accountability speak for themselves.
MATT ADAMS, Editor