I have a funny joke for our readers.
What is the difference between a journalist and a blogger?
The quality of their sources.
Ok, that wasn’t funny. But I got your attention. And that’s the point.
As journalists, our job is to get your attention. But get your attention in an unbiased way. We don’t sensationalize the news, we report it, providing multiple sides and different angles. We are charged with gaining the facts and presenting all sides of an issue, topic or event by vetting sources that provide balanced detail to the story.
I feel compelled to remind readers because in this ever-growing digital world, journalists are compared to others in the digital landscape. I have received emails and calls asking questions about news stories on theunion.com because our readers have read very different stories about the same topic elsewhere on the Web.
Bloggers tend to pull quotes from our stories and cite them as The Union’s opinion. They try to misrepresent The Union’s stance based on out-of-context quotes, when in fact these quotes are only the opinion of one reader. It’s important to note that The Union runs a daily OPINION page to publish the OPINION of local readers. We do this to voice the concerns and ideas of locals in our community. We have no agenda other than to equally share the voice of our fellow community members.
Bloggers often don’t have such integrity. They only share one opinion: their own. They selectively blast The Union daily if our coverage doesn’t fit their mindset, which is fine because freedom of speech was never intended to share just one side.
Bloggers spout opinion as fact, where this newspaper seeks multiple opinions, reliable sources and facts for its stories.
In a community such as ours, it’s important to have a place that is balanced. If you really read The Union — and not through the eyes of these bloggers — you will find it is balanced and a much fairer place than anywhere on the Internet (and definitely in print).
I mentioned in my column last week that The Union has 194 years of combined journalism experience. Our goal is to provide a fair and consistent reflection of our great community, and The Union has the experience and an excellent track record to provide that.
I challenged one gentleman who emailed me about this very topic to provide another, more credible organization that has more experience and integrity in providing balanced reporting of Nevada County news and information. He quickly said we need to agree to disagree. He couldn’t refute my statement. Narrow-mindedness doesn’t build a strong community, in my opinion.
The Union works daily to share all sides. Even in a recent series of stories related to the police pressure on a local “drug house,” the reporter from The Union talked to the homeowner and quoted his side of the situation. It was possible to feel compassion about the landlord’s situation only because The Union presented a complete story.
A healthy community needs to understand all sides of an issue to make an informed and lasting decision. If we only listen to the opinion we support, we will never understand the entire picture and be able to make an informed opinion.
Bloggers do not present an entire picture, only their own opinion.
I get too many emails and calls from people that get only one side. Sitting at my desk, I have access to the information from all sides, and I just wish these folks had all the information. I often worry about these people because they are so misinformed.
They can become better informed if they read the paper. Really read the paper. And not just read the bloggers who are often attempting to color the world to match their own view of it.
It comes down to this: a good newspaper represents a community. A blogger represents individuals. To be a strong and constructive community we need an active place to provide all sides of every discussion. You get that from The Union. Not from any other online source in our county.
Jim Hemig is publisher at The Union. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 530-477-4299.