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EDITORIAL: Credible journalism

February 11, 2011
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

We have to confess, we've never been invited to join that amalgamated society dubbed "the media." We don't know the secret handshake. We don't get the encrypted e-mails where "the media" gets its lock step marching orders. We've never even gotten a Christmas card.

Breeze Newspapers, like thousands of small newspaper companies across the country, is an independent media outlet, setting its own policies for news coverage, for the opinion page, and for business practices.

And like virtually every other newspaper company across the county, we take pride in both our independence and our business plan, which centers on a very specific mission in the communities we serve: To be the best provider of local information.

To that end, our news coverage and advertising emphasis is narrowly focused around what we old-timers still call community journalism and the regional news sources now call "hyper-local content."

This means that our sole purpose on the news side is to write stories about the things that are of interest to our readers on Sanibel — proposals under consideration by the City Council and Planning Commission; issues that impact the island like the local economy and water quality, new businesses and Chamber happenings; as well as updates on organizations and community groups which promote conservation, environmental impacts and our "island" way of life.

Our community journalism emphasis also means we send reporters and photographers to youth, high school and adult sporting events; community and school fairs and festivals, and 100th birthday parties.

Our business plans defines how we do it and that's the old-fashioned way with feet on the street and traditional newsroom values that require our reporters and editors to call the various "sides" on each story written, from the nays and yeas on council votes, to the person accused of a crime when citing the information in an arrest report.

Our reporting is both signed and sourced, with the name of the primary reporter at the top along with his or her e-mail for easy contact and community feedback.

Do we have opinions? Absolutely, pretty strong ones on most Sanibel issues, in fact. Adherence to those old school values, though, means you won't find those opinions on our front page or in "gotcha" gun-and-run info-tainment that passes for reporting by some "news" outlets in our market.

Our opinions on the issues that impact Sanibel can be found on the pages you are reading now, the opinion pages that give more than equal billing to a diverse range of opinions on varying subjects submitted by members of the community, all signed and all verified for submission every week by one of our editors.

We believe ours is a leadership role and we take this responsibility very seriously by striving to provide information that goes beyond the pretty packaging of press releases and official reports, providing the answers to the questions our readers want asked.

That's credible journalism — bylined stories written by trained staff not afraid to put their name on their work; opinions, when presented, plainly labeled as such with the names of those responsible front and center and contact numbers to boot.

Some will tell you such journalism is a dinosaur, that anonymous blogs, agenda-laden websites, talking heads that tout opinion disguised as news, and fake-name forums where anything goes are the new norm.

We don't think so, nor does most any job-seeker who has made the mistake of sending personal information to one of the "ad" sites popping up on-line where unscreened "employers" are feeding on the desperate or stealing bank account or credit card info for cute puppies that don't exist.

We think our brand of journalism has a role to play and is here to stay.

Thank you for reading. As always, we invite your input.

— Reporter editorial

Fact Box


Publisher Jack Glarrow:

Executive Editor Valarie Harring:

Sanibel Group Executive Editor Jeff Lysiak:



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