Big News, Real News: Showing How News Works at InDepthNH.org in 2018

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We will show you how we do our jobs and you are free to tell us how we can do them better. We are fair, unbiased and transparent. Ask Questions: nancywestnews@gmail.com

By Nancy West, InDepthNH.org

I have been reporting news in New Hampshire for 30 years and consider myself aggressive when it comes to doing my job. But I have always bent over backwards to be fair, unbiased and ethical. I always think of myself as a human being first, reporter second. How would I want to be treated, especially if it were my ass in a sling.

New Hampshire Business Review

Nancy West, NHBR photo

It may sound corny, but I think of the Golden Rule in those moments. That doesn’t mean I don’t do the hard stories, but treating others as we would want to be treated works in journalism. That means giving the other person or the other side of an issue ample opportunity to have his or her say. We can’t ignore bad or dishonest work. Our job is to expose it, especially if it involves your government, our government.

I am still surprised when talking with people finding out they have a totally false idea of how and why we do our job.

When I talk with non-journalists, I am shocked at how often we are held in low regard. Many people seem to think we are willing to go to any unethical length to “get” a story without regard to whether it is accurate or fair or even whether it matters to the public.

They think we “stick a microphone” in the face of grieving people to get a lot of hits on the Internet, apparently to get more money from advertisers. We apparently just want to “sell newspapers” and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt, whose reputation is harmed or how much “fake news” we spread.

We want to show you that isn’t true by showing you how we do our job. Starting today at InDepthNH.org, I will post an editor’s note in red at the beginning of every story that I report explaining how I chose to cover it and why it is news along with any relevant information that helps you understand why I wrote the story. I will ask our news writers to do the same.

In all my years as a journalist, I can think of only one instance where I thought a reporter crossed the line with the microphone in the face, but I think that was inexperience at work. Yes, I am sure some of you will point to “media frenzy” that comes when New Hampshire is the center of huge, national stories.

The Pam Smart murder trial and Space Shuttle Challenger disaster come to mind.  In hindsight, maybe we could have done better, but I think our biggest sin was simply that there were just too many of us and as we started tripping over each other, got caught looking stupid. This is especially sad because those stories really mattered to New Hampshire and especially the people whose lives they touched.

Yes, we want hits on the Internet. Yes, we want to sell ads, but only because we are writing and reporting news that matters to New Hampshire and we need to pay our writers. Here’s where you come in. Please find your way to support us.

You might be surprised how much of New Hampshire’s news is being generating from press releases from government and businesses because we have too few reporters. Some news outlets rewrite news releases and put a byline on the story. We don’t. We clearly state that we are printing a press release when the information needs to get out, but even then we usually try to get some response from an individual or group that may disagree or have a different opinion on the matter.

We want to be totally transparent and invite you to join us. InDepthNH.org is YOUR nonprofit News outlet. We are planning four get-togethers around New Hampshire to make sure we continue the tradition of real news in the Granite State. We need your help sponsoring and hosting them. email nancywestnews@gmail.com

I will write an update from time to time and hope you will hold us accountable. News matters. The Washington Post – in a slogan that originated with famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward – says it best, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

 

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