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News Vs. Gossip

Newspapers are meant to provide their community, and their readers, with facts. Objectivity is at the basis of news. Newspapers, especially community-based ones, are also meant to provide readers with tangible pages that they contribute to. These pages hold opinions on local politics, announcements of births and weddings and information on political groups and church picnics. This information is all an important part of our daily lives. A newspaper is the resource to information and is also a catalogue of the history and events that occur in our community every day. These events could be as simple as a child’s first deer being killed, or it could be as historic as an elected leader being tossed from office for misconduct.
Regardless of the event, our pages provide a place for documenting the happenings of our lives.
With that said, however, there is something that our pages do not promote: gossip.
There is a stern difference between a newspaper and a gossip tabloid. Of course, social media has provided an “in-the-moment” stage for any kind of posts. Some of these posts are kind, giving credit to others. Some are selfish, where personal opinions are used to throw verbal darts at others. Regardless, social media has unintentionally blurred the line between news and opinion.
Much like other newspapers, we, at The Colletonian, provide our readers and our community with a social media format for which everyone can comment their opinion. We also provide an editorial page in our paper, where you are reading this editorial (our collective opinion). What you will not see in our paper, or in our staff’s professional posts on the newspaper’s sites, is information about any gossip happening in our community.
We refuse to blur the line.
Rumors on the private lives of elected leaders are gossip. When, or if, an investigation is properly done on any elected or appointed leader in our community, we will properly investigate that and report on it.
News is when a leader in our community violates the law, like getting arrested or not paying taxes. News does not address what someone does in their personal life, or what their spouse or children do in their personal lives. There is a line between news and gossip, and we choose to stay on the side of news.
This editorial comes to you after we have received countless comments and questions about the rumored happenings of several people in our community. We encourage our readers to always bring their concerns to us. To be honest, some of the biggest stories that we have ever published have come from the concerns of our readers. Because of people telling us their concerns, we have discovered that a bus driver in our community was a sex offender; we have brought to you the financial disclosures of prior district leaders; and we have dug deep and learned about lawsuits that taxpayers had a right to know about. So, as much as we value every piece of information that you, our beloved readers, bring to us, we ask that everyone in our community respectfully remember the difference between news and gossip, and provide us and other local media organizations with the ability to discern the difference.
We will not air on the side of caution in terms of those in office. We will always look out for you, our community and the individual voters who are the backbone to our systems. We simply ask that you hold those who you elect accountable, and that you allow your local media outlets to be the responsible news sources that they should be.

Heather Walters (1487 Posts)