NNBV publisher column: Don’t take journalism for granted
A lot of work goes into putting together quality news and content. It is a never-ending process of trying to stay on top of all of the issues, the events and the opportunities that are happening in our community.
Local news helps to connect a community. By telling the stories of your neighbors and the businesses that call our region home, we are able to bring the community together to help to showcase what makes this place special.
In the current landscape, newspapers and other media organizations tend to feel as if they are under attack. As more and more news sources step in and compete for the public’s attention, the more that we feel we are fighting a heated battle for the future.
With tools like Facebook and Google providing the world with easy access to content, it has led to a rise and development of some challenging patterns and beliefs. Primarily, they have opened the door for the public to be able to see and access content on nearly any topic with just the click of a link. This is a wonderful tool and capability if used correctly.
The challenge, though, is that in many cases, the content that is being consumed may or may not be accurate or true. And in some cases, it might be purposefully developed to mislead and influence.
We tend to trust a perceived expert, and in many cases do not actively seek out a counter opinion. Or worse yet, we see any opinion or story that doesn’t fit our world view as being a threat, and rather than seek to understand, we shut down and refuse to be open-minded.
None of this is new. In fact, it has been occurring since the early days of story-telling. We all seek to influence others. We seek to drive them to agree with our viewpoints and to build a sense of community from that shared understanding.
Many wars have been fought over differing opinions and understandings. What has changed is the ease of access to information. While our access has improved our ability to discern truth from fiction has not.
The opportunity is there, but we tend to be limited by our own ability to view multiple viewpoints and to recognize our own biases that shape our view of the world.
The future likely includes more tools and methods for us all to share our stories. On many levels, this is a great thing. It opens the door for better community engagement and access. It creates the opportunity for new ideas and new businesses and new methods of sharing and communicating.
But it does come at a cost.
When every primary source can share an opinion, it can cause the truth to become muddy. When we are presented with hundreds of articles and stories every day, the odds are you don’t have the time, or desire, to conduct research on every article you read.
We have to rely on our gut feeling on if a story is true or not. We all have challenges sorting through what is opinion and what is fact. The concept of truth can be one of the most challenging to recognize and understand. Truth is very much in the eye of the beholder. What might be seen as a truth to one person might be seen as false to another.
Journalism, at its best and highest form, is the pursuit and sharing of the facts. Reporters and editors go to great lengths to conduct the interviews, compile data and fact-check the details in order to get as close to the truth as possible.
As more and more voices are able to reach the masses, we have seen that the trust of those sources holds the same level, and sometimes more — trust that the media companies putting in the time and effort to verify what we are publishing is true.
Many people take the news media for granted; there seems to be an assumption that the industry will always be here and will always be able to help cover the stories that we all hold dear.
The reality is that we all must find opportunities to support the news organizations in which we find value. Without readers, advertisers and subscribers, we could find ourselves in a world devoid of quality journalism.
The truth is out there — it is just getting harder to find.
Ben Rogers is the publisher of the Northern Nevada Business View. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PBS Reno, formerly known as KNPB Public Television, has served Northern/Central Nevada and Northeastern California since 1983.