In this media-heavy world where we are bombarded with news stories, opinion pieces and sponsored stories second by second, I feel the need to clear up a few things, because muddling through what is truth, what is paid content and what is opinion is hard enough for me after a degree on the subject.
This isn’t meant to point fingers or make anyone feel dumb. I definitely don’t know anything about accounting or cosmetics or child care or how my car works or how to run a business or much of anything useful really, we are all experts in our own fields. I just want to share a little bit from behind the scenes of mine.
First, we adhere to a code of ethics, the best example of which can be found on the Canadian Association of Journalists website. These guidelines include striving to report the truth and to give fair coverage to as many sides of the story as possible.
We act independently of other organizations as well as the government. We have the final say on what is published on our network, not our advertisers, or other interested parties or even the people we interview for our stories.
Along those lines, we do not allow anyone outside of the company to read stories before they are published. As the code of ethics says: “Doing so might invite prior restraint and challenge our independence as reporters.”
We do not withhold stories that might anger our advertisers. We do not ignore stories that may anger our advertisers.
If an advertiser pays to have a story written about them it will be marked as “sponsored content”, or perhaps as an “advertorial”. These stories are paid for and approved by the advertiser. They say whatever the advertiser wants them to say, within reason.
We strive to know what is going on in the community at all times however we often need help. If you know of something that is happening that shouldn’t be happening, let us know. If you know of an interesting person that we should be talking to, let us know. If there is an event that is happening that you think we should be at, let us know. We would be happy to talk with you about anything and everything.
On that note, stories take time. I am no master of time management, but I am working on it. My day to day tasks include monitoring emails, online feeds and other communication channels for story ideas, interviewing sources and gathering information for stories, including attending city council meetings, taking and editing photos and videos, posting to social media, writing and editing my stories as well as news releases and Liam’s stories, posting stories online, attending community events and assisting in the layout of the print newspaper. Among other things.
I am sure many people’s days are as busy as mine and I am not making excuses, merely shedding some light on what goes on behind the scenes.
As well as stories and sponsored content, we also write and publish columns. These are opinion pieces. They can be found in the opinion section on our website or on page six/seven of the newspaper. This piece that you are currently reading is a column and in it I can write what I think and how I interpret global, local and personal news. When I write other stories, I keep my opinion out of it.
There are two terrible parts to my job, the first is monitoring comments on social media and on our website. As I am sure all of you have experienced there are some rude and hateful people out there. In my personal life I avoid reading the comments sections, but in my work life it is part of my job. We do our best to remove hateful comments and all swearing.
The other part of my job that makes my stomach turn is when I screw up. Anything from a spelling error to something that is just not correct, it can feel like the world is ending. I am definitely a bit dramatic and anxious about these things (thank goodness for my calm co-workers), but it is important to get things right the first time. The higher the stakes, the more effort I put in, the less errors there are, but I have trouble drawing the line. When do I stop when the work is endless?
In the end I believe I work for my community. And I strive to do well and get upset when I make a mistake because I want you to have the best information. So please, if there is an error in something you read, let us know. If something doesn’t make sense, let us know. If you think we should be writing about something that we aren’t, let us know. We would love to hear from you. We are always working at being better.