Why trusted news keeps our community safe and vibrant

David Hamilton ANL-161204-113356001
David Hamilton ANL-161204-113356001

Community leaders and residents have spoken of the vital role our trusted news service plays in keeping the region strong, safe, and vibrant.

Last week, we launched a campaign Fighting Fake News and highlighted the very real dangers of fabricated stories peddled across social media.

We highlighted the exemplary standards of training we invest in and the robust codes of conduct we are committed to to provide news that is wholly trusted.

It is a campaign that is being supported by local papers across the UK.

This week, residents said our quality journalism was essential in holding those in authority to account and keeping them fully informed of local decisions and information.

Christian Mitchell, Chairman of Horsham District Council, said: ‘‘I am delighted to endorse #trustednewsday and the campaign by local newspapers across the UK to fight fake news.

“The West Sussex County Times, my own local newspaper, has been simply terrific in covering my year as Chairman and helping me highlight the great work so many of our community organisations do.

“However, the County Times is also a tough watchdog and never shies away from holding our council to account. Which is just as it should be.

“Fake news is the scourge of our age. Thank goodness for papers like the County Times with their highly trained and honourable journalistic staff, their commitment to the Editors’ Code of Practice, and their determination always to do the right thing by the communities that they serve.”

John Le Rossignol, from the Rotary Club of Horsham, said: “As usual the County Times is right on the button! The virulent spread of ‘fake news’, a topic that was unheard of not many months ago, now touches our lives every day and confounds our beliefs and views.

“If we cannot trust our press and TV media, how can we know what we should be thinking and supporting - and what we should be advising our offspring.

“I value the stance that our local paper is taking and trust that this approach will be adopted by all quality media in this wonderful country of ours.’’

Philip Jordan, Chief Executive of Henry Adams LLP, said: ‘‘The West Sussex County Times has my full support for their campaign against the rising levels of ‘fake news’.

“Incorrect and deliberately misleading information simply doesn’t enable people to make the best decisions, whether on a personal level or a political level. We are lucky with the excellent standard of local news from the County Times with professional journalists working to provide our communities with valuable local news we can rely on.

“Working together with the Fighting Fake News campaign will hopefully result in more reliable and informative news from all sources.’’

Malcolm Willis, chairman of The Horsham Society, said: “News can easily and readily be manipulated using technology.

“It is important that we ensure that we reflect upon what we hear and see, draw upon reliable sources such as those who subscribe to the Fighting Fake News Ccmpaign and then make informed decisions.”

Broadcaster ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton, who lives near Horsham, said: ‘‘I heartily endorse your campaign. Unfortunately, social media has given people the opportunity to voice as fact things that are patently untrue and to do so outside the bounds of libel and slander.

“This is rapidly becoming the major purveyor of news, instead of that coming from trained journalists working under proper guidelines.’’

Paula Seager, director, Natural Partnerships CIC, organisers of Sussex Food and Drink Awards and Southdownsfood.org, said: “It is terrifying how much false news is believed as fact nowadays because someone has stated it on social media - and it is particularly bad when another media outlet then reports it as well, as this lends it even more credibility.

“This is really tough for food and drink businesses to deal with - one negative or vindictive comment on a Twitter feed can become a headline on a newspaper and ruin a business.

“We need to know that we have reliable, responsible media that verifies the truth of stories and reports the facts, not innuendo or misleading information and we need to support this media so that it can continue to provide us with balanced and honest news. I fully support this campaign and the newspapers behind it!”

Fact or Fiction?

If you’re not sure that a snippet of local news you’ve seen on social media is fact or fake we can check it out.

Email our hotline at copydesk.sussex@jpress.co.uk with a screen grab of the item or all the details you have and our trained professionals will investigate.

The story needs to be local and it must be passing itself off as news - perhaps it is an alleged crime or a claim about a council decision.

We’ll let you know the outcome of our investigation - and we will share the truth with our readers too. If we don’t have the resources to check it out on this occasion will tell you that as well.