Trusted news keeps communities safe

Ian Noble
Ian Noble

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 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.

Tim Cobb, head of PR and digital marketing agency Cobb PR – which is a member of the Hastings Chamber of Commerce – said: “The term Fake News has now firmly embedded itself in the work place.

“Go back 100 years and it would have been called propaganda. Fast forward to president-elect Trump’s first press conference, and it is used to describe anything that The Donald does not agree with.

“Today, it has a wider meaning to explain how social media makes it far too easy for individuals with a twisted logic or for financial gain to post blatant lies online.

“So where does this leave the great British public? Where do we go for our news and who can we trust? The role of our local newspaper has never been more vital. We can rely on trained journalists giving us a balanced view of everyday stories and the major breaking news.

“Journalists tend to have a cynical and doubting side to them. So if it makes it into a newspaper, it has passed their own checks and balances. They are trained professionals, who vet stories carefully.

“I would encourage everybody to sense-check the comments and stories they read through social media sites. As a former business mentor used to say to me, ‘If it looks too good to be true, it is probably a lie’. Good advice in our modern world of Fake News.”

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!”

Ian Noble, owner of local marketing platform thebestof Hastings, said: “There is no doubting ‘fake news’ has hit the headlines and with an increasing number of news platforms available there is no shortage of appetite for the latest information – not only do people want to know what’s happening, they want to know now, immediately.

“We welcome local news stories and encourage local people to add community events to www.thebestof.co.uk/hastings, free of charge.

“That said, every event is moderated and we aim to read every word before it goes live. Naturally, we only want to portray what is ‘real’.

“The responsibility to determine what is real and what is fake lies with the reader – with literally millions of social media posts daily, be sure to add a common-sense check before you share stories that appear unbelievable – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

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.