The responsibilities of a community newspaper

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

There are many responsibilities that come with publishing a credible newspaper, be it a daily or a weekly newspaper. The general public picks up a newspaper expecting to read about the most up-to-date, correct and factual information concerning them, their friends, neighbors and their community.

Because of this, the community's newspaper plays a vital role in informing and, sometimes, in shaping the views of the people it serves. That is a very big responsibility, one that I, or this newspaper, do not take lightly.

An editor, reporter or publisher of a newspaper has a responsibility to present a story to the public using all of the most factual information that is supplied by the most informed sources available. We must remain impartial, objective and unbiased when writing stories, otherwise we have lost sight of the service we provide to the community- to be a source of factual, correct and proven information.

However, without substantiated evidence and proof with which to back a story, we would be printing information that would be nothing more than hearsay or gossip.

If we did that, not only could the newspaper be charged with libel, but the writer could be held accountable as well. Printing information that is gossip or hearsay or that has no substantiated, physical proof behind it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen for the newspaper, the editor and also for the person who submitted, say a letter to the editor accusing someone of wrongdoing without proof that it actually occurred.

A newspaper can divide a community, or even an entire county, over certain hotbed issues, or it can help to repair a fissure in the community by bringing both sides of the issue into a much clearer focus so the readers can decide for themselves based on the unbiased information presented to them. Being an avenue of information is completely the opposite of being a gateway for libel or gossip.

It is my utmost desire as the managing editor of The Luverne Journal to provide our readers with the most correct and factual information as possible at all times.

I take this position very seriously and will not deviate from it in order to serve those who have personal agendas of their own and wish only to fulfill that agenda through publication of information that cannot be proven.

That is not to say that we will not publish information that could be considered controversial, or information that may not be flattering to our elected officials or to those who support them.

It simply means we will not publish such information without hard evidence to back any allegations that may be brought to us to be exposed to the public.

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email,: