De­mand facts, sup­port real news in your com­mu­nity

Springfield Sun - - OPINION -

The term “news me­dia” can mean a lot of dif­fer­ent things these days, but at the Penn­syl­va­nia News­me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion, the news me­dia that we work with are Penn­syl­va­nia’s news­pa­pers and on­line-only news pub­li­ca­tions.

There are 77 daily news­pa­pers in Penn­syl­va­nia, more than 175 non-daily pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing col­lege news­pa­pers, and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of on­line-only news sites. The num­ber of Penn­syl­va­nia’s print-based pub­li­ca­tions has not changed much in the last 10 years, and even in this era of me­dia con­sol­i­da­tion, Penn­syl­va­nia con­tin­ues to have more fam­ily owned news­pa­pers than any other state in the coun­try. We also en­joy very strong read­er­ship, with 82 per­cent of all Penn­syl­va­nia adults read­ing a news­pa­per, in print or on­line, each week.

I’ll never for­get the first time I toured a news­pa­per build­ing and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity. They call the news­pa­per a “daily mir­a­cle” for a rea­son. The idea that a rel­a­tively small group of peo­ple can gather news, write and edit con­tent, sell advertising, lay out pages and sec­tions, print them all and de­liver a news­pa­per each day (or each week) is noth­ing short of amaz­ing. To see it in per­son only high­lights how in­cred­i­ble it is.

Be­cause I work where I do, I of­ten hear from friends and fam­ily about er­rors or per­ceived bias by the “news me­dia,” and my re­sponse is al­ways the same. I can only speak to my ex­pe­ri­ences with Penn­syl­va­nia’s news­pa­pers and news sites, and that ex­pe­ri­ence is over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. Are they per­fect ev­ery time? No. But I can as­sure you that they work hard ev­ery day to get the facts right and to en­sure that their news prod­ucts are as er­ror-free as pos­si­ble. I have never worked with a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who are more pas­sion­ate about their mis­sion or who en­gage in such open, thought­ful dis­cus­sions about how to han­dle dif­fi­cult is­sues or top­ics.

Next month, news ed­i­tors across Penn­syl­va­nia will meet in Lan­caster to dis­cuss ethics, how to en­sure ac­cu­racy in the de­mand for “im­me­di­ate” news, how fact-based news or­ga­ni­za­tions should re­spond to the “fake news” phe­nom­e­non and more. At PNA, we of­fer mem­bers a le­gal hot­line and re­ceive al­most 2,000 calls each year from re­porters and ed­i­tors who are work­ing to get it right. We are also work­ing with mem­bers to host com­mu­nity meet­ings across the state on “Trust, Trans­parency and the News” and “Real Jour­nal­ism in the Era of Fake News.” More than 200 peo­ple joined us at El­iz­a­beth­town Col­lege in March, and on May 8, we are hold­ing an event at Har­ris­burg Area Com­mu­nity Col­lege. We have more in the works, and I hope that you will join us if we come to your com­mu­nity.

You’ll see an ad in this week’s news­pa­per or on­line, high­light­ing the im­por­tance of de­mand­ing facts and sup­port­ing real news. At PNA, we work with our mem­bers to help them in their con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to in­form and en­gage their com­mu­ni­ties with real facts and real news. If you are al­ready a sub­scriber of or ad­ver­tiser in your lo­cal news­pa­per or on­line news site, thank you. If you aren’t, I hope that you will “De­mand Facts” and “Sup­port Real News” in your com­mu­nity, by en­gag­ing with your lo­cal news me­dia in some way. Thank you for your time, and I would love to hear from you at terih@panews.org. Teri Hen­ning is the pres­i­dent of the Penn­syl­va­nia News­me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion.

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