It’s a strange world indeed—this one of community newspaper publishing.
Last week we read one of our competitor’s editorials which devoted their weekly editorial space to calling out yet another of our competitors, for engaging in what might be construed as questionable, in the ethics department that is.
After reading the Queens Chronicle’s editorial ‘Watching a competitor for political bias’ we were left shaking our heads. A burning question at the seat of that head shake: “Why didn’t we do this?”
The editorial told the story of a company named Multi-Media, which operates out of the offices of The Queens Tribune. Of course they maintain that the political consulting services that Multi-Media provides are operated with total separation and independence from their newspaper. To that we say—what a crock. The editorial goes on to cite numerous examples of just how “un-independantly” of each other the newspaper and the consulting firm seem to operate in reality.
The Chronicle piece explains at its onset that they are not in the business of knocking their competitors. We agree that is not generally good practice, but you know what’s most important—we shouldn’t have to knock our competitors. Furthering that point is the fact that our competitors should operate in a way that they couldn’t get knocked.
Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all run the appropriate corrections, but there is a very distinct line that separates making a mistake and making a choice to either deceive or manipulate a collective readership.
Running a community newspaper has a set formula really—concentrate on the local, always be fair and honest in your reporting, don’t pander to advertisers, treat all groups equally, give all sides of a story and by all means, educate your readers. At this newspaper, we live by all of those rules each week. Some are more difficult than others, yet that is what we do.
And although we at The Forum don’t go out of our way to tear down our competitors in print, we usually don’t praise them either. In this instance though, we’d like to make an exception. We congratulate The Chronicle for its willingness to clearly demonstrate that which should not be tolerated by our industry, least of all by the professionals within our industry.
Within newspaper publishing at any level there are built-in expectations. At the community level those expectations are especially important. The communities that we serve are entitled to the commitment, dedication and an earnest love of community and of truth. The Forum prides itself on those principles and so does The Queens Chronicle.
While our business involves competing for readership, we should remember the most important part of winning that readership is treating it with the utmost integrity. We hope we can count on all our competitors to do that—but in reality we know we can’t. It is good to know however that in many cases our industry is still represented by newspapers and publishers who know the difference.