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Where the real journalism is

Posted: September 28, 2017 3:21 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Next week, Oct. 1-7, is National Newspaper Week. 

Right now, you are holding (or viewing) the most accurate account of what is going on in Kershaw County and all its communities as we could put together for today’s edition of the Chronicle-Independent.

On any given day, we provide you with reports from city, county and town councils and the county’s school board, and keep them accountable when it comes to the freedom of information. We also keep you as up to date as we can on police department and sheriff’s office activity; court cases and hearings; and major accidents, fires and other emergencies. We also report on things that make those agencies’ jobs easier or harder, as the case may be.

The C-I -- indeed, any good community newspaper worth its ink -- provides far more than just news, though.

Sports Editor Tom Didato, practically by himself, provides you with the most complete coverage of local sports I’ve ever seen out of one person.

Our two-page Opinion section (most newspapers are down to one or none) includes editorials and columns from us and our contributors, along with editorial cartoons and letters to the editor, providing a variety of voices on local, state, regional and national issues. You may not always agree with what we or our contributors say, but I hope we’ve always been fair. And we always keep our opinions off the front page. Always.

Our People & Places page lets you know what’s happening on the more leisurely side of Kershaw County life, from weddings and engagements to events at the Fine Arts Center and Kershaw County Library to upcoming garden club meetings and some terrific columns from students at our high schools.

We publish photos submitted by the school district and local shutterbugs.

The C-I also provides you with legal, public and tax notices; real estate transaction and building permit listings; and classified and display ads from big and small businesses and your neighbors.

There’s a thread connecting all of these elements: real journalism.

The C-I, including its website and Facebook page, does not engage in “fake news.” In fact, there’s likely few, if any, community newspapers in South Carolina or across the U.S. that I could point to and say, they’re putting out “fake news.”

Now, that’s not to say that we don’t make mistakes. And when we do, we correct them and move on to do better the next time around. We’re human, with all our foibles.

What is “fake news” then? I would define it as any news report that is deliberately crafted to obscure the truth. Some people believe that some news outlets (cable news, primarily, but major newspapers, too) are biased in some way (usually to the left, with FOX News accused of leaning right), and, therefore, producing “fake news.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you you’re wrong. I don’t work for those organizations, so I can’t know what is going on behind the scenes, the decisions they’re making. What I can do is express the opinion that the vast majority of individual journalists in this country -- wherever they may work -- are professionals who would never even think of crafting a single piece of “fake news.”

It’s not who we are.

I know it’s not who we are at the C-I. Jim, Tom and I have, combined, about 70 years worth of experience covering this community. We may not have been born here, but we have lived here for many years. We are, literally, part of the community we cover. Getting the story right -- being accurate and as fair as we can -- is so important to us because, let me say it again, we live here.

If I’m going to argue that we are not the purveyors of “fake news,” then who is? It’s individuals and organizations with agendas who spread stories without any proof or by twisting proof to their ends in the hopes the public will take it as gospel.

“Fake news” most often is seen on social media via Facebook posts and in 140 characters on Twitter. So, how can you trust anything you see online?

Does the post or tweet link to an original source? If not, skip it. If it does, follow those links and see if it’s a fly-by-night operation or a real news outlet.

I believe you are smart enough to know the difference between “fake” and real news. Take the time to use those smarts.

If you see something we’ve posted on the C-I’s Facebook page (we don’t use Twitter), I assure you that you can trust it’s the most accurate information we can provide at the time. The same goes for the final product, whether in our print edition or online on our website.

It comes down to this:

We are where the real journalism is in Kershaw County.

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