How Should News Be Reported?


Thunder Bay – NEWS – News and information is our business. Getting facts to you, our readers and viewers is important. Getting them to you accurately is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

In terms of news reporting, there are a few basics that we follow at NetNewsLedger, and are followed at other news outlets.

First, what we report to you has to be as accurate as possible. We do that within the confines of our mantra of “News at the Speed of the Internet” ©.

So how does that work?

First off lets take a look at how we get the news we report. News releases, reader input, and news tips all play a role in the news you get.

NetNewsLedger often gets news tips from our readers. There is a very necessary vetting process that we follow. For example in a crime report, we seek to independently verify the report. In today’s world of technology it is easy to rush to report.

However, confirmation of reports from unofficial stories is critical.

In a world where people are being told the news they are getting is “fake news” the responsibility in reporting accurate and true information is more critical than ever.

Opinions belong on the Editorial Page, not in the news report.

News tips are important, we welcome them. Sometimes people want to share something that is really impacting the community but also are scared that if they do, they could be putting their job at risk. So they send the information to the media. The reality is all news tips are investigated.

Our policy is to seek at least a double confirmation on that kind of information. And that would be from two independent sources that are not basing their information on each other.

Protecting confidential sources

Often in reporting the news, we get information from sources who want to remain confidential.

Dealing with unnamed sources presents a challenge. So for NetNewsledger, material from anonymous sources may be used only if:

  • The material is information and not opinion or speculation, and is vital to the report
  • The information is not available except under the conditions of anonymity imposed by the source
  • The source is reliable, and in a position to have direct knowledge of the information

That means not just taking someone’s anonymous message as reliable. It means more work to fully vet the information, and the source.

What does on the record, off the record, background, and on deep background mean?

On the record: The information can be used with no caveats, quoting the source by name.

Off the record: The information cannot be used for publication.

Background: The information can be published but only under conditions negotiated with the source.

Generally, in cases like this, the source(s) will not want their names published, but will agree to a description of their position. For example, an official in Premier Ford’s office told NetNewsLedger….”

Deep background: The information can be used but without attribution. The source does not want to be identified in any way, even on condition of anonymity.

Simply put getting a news story to you, our readers and views means a lot of work, it means developing sources, respecting those sources, protecting those sources, and fact checking those sources.

Some of that work takes time. However it is in our view, time well spent. It ensures that the news and information that NetNewsLedger gives you is accurate.

That in today’s world matters more than ever.

James Murray

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