March 19, 2013 — From reporting about civic events, murder trials and everything in between, the role of newspapers — including the one you are reading now — is as important as it has ever been and maybe even more so these days.
We live in an age of advanced technology and information sharing. This information age has seen the birth of the Internet and the growth of blogging, Twitter and Facebook. Instant news and information is available just moments after it happens if you know where to look.
But there is a major difference between the news you read in the newspaper, and the “news” you get from Twitter, Facebook or a blogger. All too often, the person who witnessed the event doesn’t deliver the Tweets and blogs. More often than not, it’s third-, fourth- or even fifth-hand information. At that point, it is frequently little more than a rumor. If the information is indeed credible, it’s more than likely it originated from — you’re right — a newspaper.
Most savvy readers know this. And that is precisely why newspapers, although facing tough financial times, will always be with us.
“Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents,” financial wizard Warren Buffett said recently in his annual report to his shareholders. And Buffett is putting his money where his mouth is. This past year alone he purchased 63 daily and weekly newspapers.
The news media has long been referred to as the “fourth estate.” The term fourth estate was first used in our country during the colonial days in the early 1700s. Some of our forefathers considered newspapers to be as important and as powerful as a fourth branch of government (thus the term fourth estate), even though a newspaper’s content remains free from prior restraint and governmental control. Yes, the Founding Fathers knew how essential and vital newspapers are to a well-functioning, democratic society.
They considered access to information essential to the health of the nation. Newspapers ensure citizens have access to the information necessary to make responsible, informed choices. Newspapers serve a checking function by ensuring elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and truly serve the people who elected them; that shady businessmen aren’t allowed to use public positions to prey upon the public.
We know you rely on us to be the newspaper of record for Lassen County. We understand that, and we take our role seriously.
Making sure what you read in this paper is factual and unbiased is our top priority. We don’t sensationalize events for the sake of gaining readership — that’s not our goal. We answer to you. We answer to the truth. Feather Publishing, our parent company, has been doing business that way for more than 100 years. That commitment won’t ever change. We don’t report rumors, in fact, our role is to squelch them. Sometimes that means reporting events that are distasteful to some people. Sometimes it means what you read in the paper could be different than what you hear on the street.
We stand behind our reporting. Yet, despite our best efforts, we will sometimes make mistakes, and that is why we pledge to correct our mistakes as soon as we find out about them, ensuring that the last word you read about an event — opinions aside — will be the truth.
Usually it is you, our readers, who alert us of any errors, and we applaud you for doing so. You are the ultimate ombudsman of the Lassen County Times.
This is your newspaper. Thanks for reading.
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