Trusted news keeps communities safe

Michael Ferry, head of St Wilfrid's School, Crawley
Michael Ferry, head of St Wilfrid's School, Crawley

Community leaders and residents have spoken of the vital role our trusted news service plays in keeping the region strong, safe, and vibrant.

Last week, we launched a campaign Fighting Fake News and highlighted the very real dangers of fabricated stories peddled across social media.

We highlighted the exemplary standards of training we invest in and the robust codes of conduct we are committed to provide news that is wholly trusted.

It is a campaign that is being supported by local papers across the UK.

This week, residents said our quality journalism was essential in holding those in authority to account and keeping them fully informed of local decisions and information.

Michael Ferry, head teacher at St Wilfrid’s School, Crawley, said: ‘‘I completely agree and fully endorse your campaign. The article by editor Gary Shipton raises the issue of trust which is essential. Over the last few years I have become fully aware of the trust that exists between local journalists and those people with whom they have interviewed on serious issues/campaigns.

‘‘That level of trust is essential in ensuring that significant stories can be covered without jeopardising any relationship/position. The perfect example for me is the way that you and others in the local press have reported the Worth Less? campaign. It has been balanced, informative and has ensured that readers are able to trust the content. There is no political spin, no sense of personalisation, only facts and the reporting of the impact.

‘‘In times of difficulty, the only thing we have to hold on to is our integrity. A free press is essential but with that freedom comes responsibility. Our local press accepts that and works hard to ensure that through professional reporting, it can highlight injustice, report candidly on serious issues and by doing so allow local people to trust the information provided.

“This then allows them to make informed choices and in turn allows for the development of a fairer society.’’

Steve Sawyer, Executive Director, Manor Royal Business District in Crawley, said: ‘‘Local newspapers and their websites play a vital role in reporting local, regional and national stories as they impact on local communities.

‘‘It is crucial that the integrity of the news we receive and the conduct of local reporters aspire to the highest standards of integrity and trust so that the reader can access a balanced view and form their own opinion. This is a fundamental principal of professional journalism. Sadly it is a principal that is not upheld by all.

‘‘I support the ‘Fighting Fake News’ campaign and am glad to see Sussex Newspapers involved in it. For me the printed and online versions of the Crawley Observer have long been a primary source of local information for businesses and residents and should be supported in their efforts to maintain a trustworthy reputation. Recent events demonstrate the increasingly strong influence the media has on our opinions of people, places and governments. ‘‘Responsible journalism is the only journalism worthy of our attention and that’s why I am happy to support the Fighting Fake News campaign.’’

Dawn Martin, head teacher at Gossops Green Community Primary School in Crawley, said: ‘‘I’m very happy to endorse the importance of accurate, unbiased reporting of news (and of ‘opinion pieces’ where they are clearly labelled as such).

‘‘Working in an industry which is rightly accountable to the public that funds it, I am very aware that the ‘wisdom of crowds’, i.e. public perception, can be a game changer, accurate or not.

‘‘Journalism only has value if it can be trusted to be a true and verifiable account.

“We are lucky to have our local press to uphold these standards and to represent what is really happening in the local community.’’

Fact or Fiction?

If you’re not sure that a snippet of local news you’ve seen on social media is fact or fake we can check it out.

Email our hotline at copydesk.sussex@jpress.co.uk with a screen grab of the item or all the details you have and our trained professionals will investigate.

The story needs to be local and it must be passing itself off as news - perhaps it is an alleged crime or a claim about a council decision.

We’ll let you know the outcome of our investigation - and we will share the truth with our readers too. If we don’t have the resources to check it out on this occasion will tell you that as well.