Specht: Why do we print the negative?

Specht

Why do you always put negative news in the newspaper? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question in my 25-plus years in the business. However, the answer may surprise you.

I often answer with a question of my own, “How you define what is negative?” The term news was defined by my father very early in my career. “News is timely information of interest to a broad range of people,” he said.

So, what makes some news “negative” and some news “positive?” That depends on your point of view. For instance, a story about a wreck that kills someone is negative to the family that just lost a loved one. However, if that story causes someone to start wearing their seatbelt, and thereby surviving a similar accident, would consider the story “positive.”

Surely an arrest report is considered negative, right? Again, that depends on your point of view.

To the individual arrested, and their family, the news is embarrassing to say the least. However the neighbors, or community that see the local police doing their job and protecting the citizenry would probably see it as positive.

News should always be merely the reporting of the facts and/or events involved. It is up to the reader to form an opinion based on those facts. This is what we endeavor to do each edition. We write about what we see and hear. We offer context and informed opinion of those involved — but we never share our opinion in a news story.

Most of the time we get it right. In rare instances, we get it wrong. When that happens we are quick to clarify or correct. After all, we are human too.

Regardless of our best efforts, there will always be those who see reporting as inaccurate or biased — often because the reporting doesn’t line up with their opinion of the situation.

On this page, however, we do share opinion — both ours and others’. The Opinion page should not be confused with news reporting. While it is “informed” opinion, it is opinion nonetheless. We welcome the opinions of our readers,
as long as they conform to some achievable guidelines.

Dialogue is the backbone of a free nation and we welcome it to the opinion page of the Press-Herald.

We will always cover the stories that matter to the community. It is a calling we do not take lightly. After all, we live, work and worship here too. We have a vested interest in being the chronicler of the history of Minden and Webster Parish.

So the next time someone asks you about the negative news in the newspaper. Perhaps you too can explain that there is no “good news” or “bad news.” There is just “news.” What you do with that news is up to you.
Thank you for reading.

David Specht is President of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at dspecht@press-herald.com.

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