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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Newsletter versus News Journalism

Newsletter versus News Journalism

What are the signs that a local newspaper has crossed the line from newsletter cheerleading to news journalism?

A newsletter announces events and spotlights milestones. A newsletter reminds readers of rules and recommendations. A newsletter quells rumors and quiets fears.

I enjoy the Hermiston Herald, partly because it functions as a city newsletter. I like my town, I've lived in this area for a total of about fourteen years, and I like to support local business and events.

But the Hermiston Herald has crossed the line. It has become a news journal. It's asking questions.

I like questions.

Recent editorials have asked questions about our city council, water issues and civil suits against the city. These questions are strong evidence of a newspaper becoming more than a newsletter. With that change, our newspaper becomes an even stronger supporter of our community.

Our local newspaper, if acting out of the ethic of journalism, is every individual's first line of defense against hidden agendas, manipulations, misunderstandings and misappropriations.

The question of speedy council meetings does not criticize our council members, but it does caution them. And it should put an itch in the community to attend the council meetings. Cussing and discussing issues before the meeting, even coming to a decision before the meeting is fine, but make sure the decision is transparently explained at the meeting before the vote is taken.

Ask the questions, Hermiston Herald. Support your community and ask the tough questions. Embrace journalism.

Photo courtesy of Oshin Beveridge and Stock.XCHNG.