We celebrate the arrival of the New Year all across America later this week. Here at the Lassen County Times, we pause for a moment at the new year to rededicate ourselves to our readers, our advertisers, our community and the ethics of our profession.
Every successful newspaper depends upon the support of its advertisers, its readers and its community.
It’s curious to consider how some readers see a newspaper’s main function as a vehicle for advertising while others see it as a source of news and information. To those of us who work in the business, the two go hand in hand and each supports the other. In fact, neither would exist without the other.
Many may not realize the original freedoms of the press were granted for business and commerce, not for news reporting. Traders needed to be able to freely advertise the goods they had for sale.
Our founding fathers wisely expanded those freedoms and prohibited prior restraint by the government through the First Amendment to the American Constitution, the same amendment in the Bill of Rights that grants the freedoms of religion, speech and assembly to the people.
But no freedom is completely free — one may not yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre unless there is one, for example, and a newspaper makes choices about what to publish in each and every issue. When making those choices, responsible newspapers publish information that is as accurate and unbiased as possible. Responsible newspapers attempt to collect and present information from all sides of a controversial issue so the reader may be properly informed.
Opinions and perspectives should be published on pages clearly identified as opinion. Editorials should be considered the newspaper’s opinion. Responsible newspapers keep the writer’s opinions on the opinion pages and out of news stories.
According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (available in greater detail at spj.org/ethicscode.asp), journalists should seek the truth and report it (be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information), minimize harm to those adversely affected by news coverage (treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect), act independently (be free of obligation to any interests other than the public’s right to know) and be accountable.
As we enter the New Year, the staff at the Lassen County Times renews its commitment to these principles. They are the cornerstones of our profession. We are dedicated to serving our advertisers, our readers and our community with the best newspaper we can produce.
If in your opinion the newspaper has fallen short of these ideals, if you have any comments to make about the newspaper or if you would like to suggest any story ideas, call Managing Editor Sam Williams at 257-5321 or Publisher Mike Taborski at 283-0800.
We’ve served Lassen County for more than 39 years, and we pledge to continue that effort in the future.
Thank you for your support.
We wish you all a Happy New Year.