Local newsgathering has never been more important. Despite so many avenues to get information, people are quite skeptical. Trusted sources, it seems, are hard to find.

That’s where The Times and Democrat and local newspapers play a vital role. Professionals committed to journalistic principles are at work every day to bring you news of the community – news reported in as objective a manner as possible.

The credibility of our efforts is harmed by those in our own profession.

A 2023 survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation shows half of Americans believe national news organizations intend to mislead, misinform or persuade the public to adopt a particular point of view through their reporting.

Asked whether they agreed with the statement that national news organizations do not intend to mislead, 50% said they disagreed. Only 25% agreed, the study found.

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Similarly, 52% disagreed with a statement that disseminators of national news “care about the best interests of their readers, viewers and listeners,” the study found. It said 23% of respondents believed journalists were acting in the public’s best interests.

“That was pretty striking for us,” said Sarah Fioroni, a consultant for Gallup. The findings showed a depth of distrust and bad feeling that go beyond the foundations and processes of journalism, she said.

The distrust is principally focused on national media, with Americans expressing more trust in local news. But the damage is done with national media’s lack of objectivity.

The survey found 32% of Americans said they pay a great deal of attention to local news, but that compares to 56% in early 2020.

The only way to reverse the trend of distrust across media is to do the job of reporting news – local and otherwise – with a commitment to objectivity as an integral source of information for the people we serve.

Lee Harter

The Times and Democrat has been the principal source of news for Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties for more than 141 years. We continue the mission today.

You’ve seen The T&D promotions in the print and online editions urging you to sign on as a member to get all that the newspaper has to offer. We’ve offered specials and unique benefits. We’ve told you how important it is in keeping the community informed that local journalism not only survive but prosper. Your support for the work that local reporters do is vital.

Some say newspapers and other local media won’t be around eventually in the information age. They are wrong. There is a need more than ever for local journalists devoted to gathering local news.

To subscribe, visit www.thetandd.com/subscribe

Lee Harter is editor of The Times and Democrat and state editor for Lee Enterprises. He can be reached at lee.harter@lee.net.

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