Editorial – Newsroom angst

This week's editorial is penned by Jennifer Cronin and describes the behind the scenes angst of a community newsroom.

As a spectator in a newsroom, I am fortunate to see the process of collecting and reporting of the news on a daily basis. I watch as the editorial staff makes difficult decisions daily as to content. In our quiet town, stories that are considered sensational rarely happen, but when they do, they usually appear on social media first.

In the ever-changing world of the newspaper business, no longer is circulation the only measure of the success of a publication. More often nowadays, the success is measured by how many hits our online stories get. While the temptation exists for journalists to put pen to paper and run with the stories on social media to boost these stats, it takes incredible strength of character to not get wrapped up in the hype and report a story that is sensationalized, hearsay and unsubstantiated.

I have seen first-hand the angst felt by the editorial staff at The Free Press. Often they are called out on social media for not picking up a story that is getting much play on Facebook. While the easy road would be for them to pick up the story and run with it, it is, while appearing on social media just that – a story. No matter the source, the information still needs to be substantiated prior to printing. To not do so is to lose credibility as a publication.

The hype that drives some Facebook users to hop on the bandwagon of a controversial post without full knowledge of the facts is the same hype that can tempt journalists to report on that story. This combined with the pressure to gain online readership can be a tricky balancing act.

It is easy on social media to remain faceless, cry foul and take a stand. Often we see the snowball effect with online stories, as the more people that see a post; the more it is shared, sometimes taking it further from the truth.  It then follows that as the number of people viewing a post increases, so does the pressure for our editorial staff to report on it.

While some of the posts on social media are true, others certainly are not. It is a journalistic responsibility to determine which is which, and this can only be done with full knowledge of the facts.

There is nothing wrong with posting your views on social media if you are comfortable with the consequences that might bring. It is not okay for journalists to do the same.

Please remember next time we again do not jump on the social media story bandwagon that it is not because we are not tempted to, it is because the story is unsubstantiated, and possibly not true.

Trust me, you will be grateful for the journalistic self-control if you are the subject of that story.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Fernie Meat Market owner Mark Brown with the newest addition to his Griz Pins collection. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days this weekend!

The 44th annual Griz Days will be mostly online

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
STA plots another trail for Lunch Network

The network will consist of 6km of trail outside of Sparwood

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read