Our mission is delivering the facts honestly, fairly and without bias
On Sunday, The Mercury of Manhattan, Kan., reprinted the statement of values that is published daily on page 2 in all 10 of the daily newspapers owned by WEHCO Media. In doing so, the newspaper promised its readers that it also is committed to the values held by Walter E. Hussman Jr. and that it will attempt "to live by this statement, day after day, regardless of the form our journalistic work takes."
Following is the column published on Sunday by The Mercury:
Alan Murray hit the nail on the head in a speech here this past week: The very idea of the existence of facts is eroding around us.
In a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University, Mr. Murray, the chief executive of Fortune Media Group, said that "the fundamental belief in the power, importance and even existence of facts is crumbling." We have entered an age in which lies are regarded as truth, and truth as lies. Those who seek to control thoughts have more tools available to them than ever.
We agree entirely. We also agree that it's a major problem for our country, which was started with the basic idea that people were capable of governing themselves through elected representatives. In order for that idea to work, people have to be able to determine what's actually happening – and the ability to determine that rests on a belief in the importance of facts.
It's in that context that we'd like to make a statement here at The Manhattan Mercury, and in our sister publications around the region.
We are dedicated to facts. We believe strongly in their existence, and we believe in their importance. We do everything we can to gather them and distribute them in a meaningful, useful way to our subscribers.
We cannot force people to believe in facts as we do, and we recognize that many people at this moment in history are more interested in winning a political argument than they are in discovering the truth.
We also recognize that here on this page – the Opinion page – we publish opinions. It is a small part of what we do, and the point of this page is to encourage people to think. To that end, we assertively attempt to provide a variety of opinions, including those that directly contradict the opinions expressed here in the daily staff-written editorial.
Otherwise, the vast majority of our time, space and effort is directed at the reporting of facts. That is our mission. We exist to serve our subscribers' need to know facts, in a self-governing society. That is what we can do, and that is what we are going to do.
We'd like to reprint a statement of values published recently by Walter Hussman, a newspaperman from Arkansas. We can promise you that we'll attempt to live by this statement, day after day, regardless of the form our journalistic work takes.
Our core values are represented by this statement:
Impartiality means reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias.
Credibility is the greatest asset of any news medium, and impartiality is the greatest source of credibility.
To provide the most complete report, a news organization must not just cover the news, but uncover it. It must follow the story wherever it leads, regardless of any preconceived ideas on what might be most newsworthy.
The pursuit of truth is a noble goal of journalism. But the truth is not always apparent or known immediately. Journalists' role is therefore not to determine what they believe at that time to be the truth and reveal only that to their readers, but rather to report as completely and impartially as possible all verifiable facts so that readers can, based on their own knowledge and experience, determine what they believe to be the truth.
When a newspaper delivers both news and opinions, the impartiality and credibility of the news organization can be questioned. To minimize this as much as possible there needs to be a sharp and clear distinction between news and opinion, both to those providing and consuming the news.