About five years ago, Donald J. Trump coined the term “fake news” to describe major national media outlets he believed were purposely trying to damage his reputation. Since then, many people and agencies in and around Fremont have been obsessed with “controlling the narrative” when it comes to themselves or the agencies they represent.
One of the most popular question we get is, “Why wasn’t that in the newspaper or on your website right away?” This could be referring to a major car accident, the name of someone being arrested, a community project, a social event, COVID cases, decisions made by local school districts and government boards or businesses.
In many cases, it’s brought to their attention we already reported it a day or two earlier. But in other instances, it isn’t our lack of trying or knowledge. It’s about verifying information and attributing it so you can rely on it. It’s what we do.
That’s harder to do when some area agencies, elected officials and P.R. departments are trying to “control the narrative.”
Let’s be clear: The Tribune’s obligation to our community is to be its watchdog—not its best friend. We report plenty of positive because our stories are a reflection of our community, but we also have to report the hard and even unpleasant stories.
Our community deserves to know if and when there have been COVID outbreaks in nursing homes, schools or businesses.
Our community deserves to know when there are major arrests, who they are and if there are crime threats in the area.
Our community deserves to know some details of car wrecks, why streets are closed, decisions being made by schools or government agencies, new businesses coming to town and businesses closing.
They deserve to know the unbiased truth in a timely fashion and be confident individuals, elected officials and agencies aren’t trying to hide it from them.
We can’t have democracy when everyone is hell-bent on controlling the narrative for their own gain – censoring the truth or putting their own spin on it—that’s literally fake news.
It also makes us raise our eyebrows and question what you’re hiding.
No more of it. The Tribune does not report the news when it’s convenient for people, businesses and the government. We report credible and timely information important to our residents – the good, bad and the ugly – but the truth.
So we’re going to continue to ask questions, and we shouldn’t have to wait days, maybe weeks, to get this information because it isn’t convenient for you.
You can’t have it both ways – beg us to share your story but then undercut our work by issuing your own press release on your Facebook page before the story publishes because you want the likes or be able to control how people interpret the facts. You can’t be your own watchdog.
Buy an advertisement if you want to control your message. Advertisements are the perfect way to communicate with your customers and our community in a public medium. Thank you to those who already understand that.
Just don’t try to pass it off as journalism or try to “ghost” our newsroom because you don’t want to talk about an important situation everyone is asking about.
There’s the truth, your version of it and often others impressions of it. The community always deserves the truth from an independent party who is going to look at all sides of what’s being reported, otherwise checks and balances aren’t a real thing.
Please understand, in our role, we often calm fears with our stories. We often dispel rumors before they start. We try to educate the community with our reporting, not try to sway it one way or the other. Without a local newspaper, how can the community truly know what fact is and what’s fiction?
This election season is the perfect time for us to recommit ourselves to this mission and our readers.
Have we made mistakes? Yes, but we continue to learn from them and improve.
Do we listen to our readers and their input? Absolutely.
Will some try to tear us down for this message? Absolutely, you can’t stop the trolls.