Our news philosophy

Lewis County Sirens.com provides news that is accurate, timely, fair, balanced, and most of all, newsworthy.

If you see an item you believe is inaccurate, we want to hear from you asap: at sharyn.decker@lewiscountysirens.com

Our emphasis is on finding the freshest news and stories that reveal what is actually happening with the people who live and work in the community.

Do you ever wonder why news reporters make the choices they do when gathering and writing news stories? Take a look through the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics to get a sense of the principles journalists look to when doing their jobs:

Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics

Preamble
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
— Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
— Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
— Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
— Never plagiarize.
— Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
— Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months of study and debate among the Society’s members.

Sigma Delta Chi’s (the forerunner to SPJ) first Code of Ethics was borrowed from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1926. In 1973, Sigma Delta Chi wrote its own code, which was revised in 1984, 1987 and 1996.

8 Responses to “Our news philosophy”

  1. Mickey says:

    I forgot to say it was Lewis County that put in our culvert 30 years ago and if there was a fee they should have told us then.

  2. Mickey says:

    In response to asap: Lewis County tries to tax you on as much as they can. We have had a driveway for over 30 years yet when we submitted plans for septic we were made to pay a $100 driveway fee. We were also told if you do not use one of the business’ on their list they will keep rejecting the plans until you pick from the list. They also said that every time they reject our plans we have to pay a fee to resubmit our plans.

  3. asap says:

    I remember going up here in lewis county. Doing all the young man would do fishing /huntting as I grew older had a family and bought property in the county. Thinking that owning property in this county was a good thing. Until the day I decided to build a home. Find out that to build a home lewis county. You have to do one thing give up your right to privacy by signing a permission to enter so that county building officials can enter your property to inspect your property at any time for any reason. That stays on file with your blueprints so the government knows every in of your home So thinking that man has constitutional rights. I would not sign permission to enter paper. So I’m asking all your old timers do you remember the time when you could build on your own property without getting so much grief from the gov’t for doing so without a permit which simply means permission to build on our own property without having to go to the government for permission or permit. In accordance with the code you can’t build a good sized child’s playhouse without a permit.. you cannot move dirt on your own property if it’s over a certain amount without a permit. I ask you all do the people have the power or is it the government.. that has all the power because power and inherited by the gov’t and not by the people is pretty much a terrorist gov’t as I see we are headed in. When such codes tell you where to put every nail and screw . The insulation factor of our windows. The amount of insulation in our walls and ceilings it seems to me that they’ve got past protecting us from shady contractors who would build your Home in properly. And from what I read about the codes that was their purpose!!!! Not to tell the farmer how to build on his own property.. Show what I’m really wondering as how are we going to get all rights back … Because from what I’ve seen my 58 years on this planet is the government has done nothing but steal them from much our forefathers fought and died they swear an oath two the constitution but still take all rights as given by our forefathers and the constitution… So if someone out there reads this and knows how to go about getting this changed please do something… because we the people are tired of carrying you the gov’t that is the tax burden on our back. So that you can continue to war with the world over our freedoms.. I’d all of us have lost loved ones in wars over this issue. But to sit here and let our government take are right away is a disgrace for their lost

  4. Thomas E. Miller says:

    “…to become a strong, honest and upstanding young man who shares our distrust of law enforcement, the Lewis County legal/political system…” Carolyn Carter

    First time to visit this forum. I am distraught over my personal and ongoing experience with the “system” referred to in this quote. If one profits from a corrupt system then one should and ought to break the bonds that tie us to it. Journalism is one thing, and fundimental to the existence and maintenance of a civil system that can justify the motto “equal justice for all”. But jounalism alone, in this, our state, can only assist in point out what needs to save us. Who will come and overturn the table upon which justice is now sacrificed?

  5. MorningCoffee says:

    Proofreading is essential in newsprint… and I agree fully with GeorgePHigley’s statement: “The writting is amaturish- not completly thought out-boring and often has mis-spellings and grammer error.” Even though there are six errors involving misspelling, grammar, and punctuation.

    I truly appreciate this LC Sirens site for MY reliable “go-to” place for a quick look at what’s happening. That said, however, I recommend that Lewis County Sirens also use a spellchecker software, in addition to a proofreader.

  6. Shari W. says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for giving us timely, TRUTHFUL, local news!

  7. George P. Higby says:

    I am very, very impressed with what you’ve done. Your presentation and the information you present here is perfect for me to get my local news. I once was a subscriber to the Chronicle as was my father…and his mother before he and have lost interest at even looking at their front page. The writting is amaturish- not completly thought out-boring and often has mis-spellings and grammer error.
    I love Centralia. It is my home. The Chronicle is a poor reflection of our community. Thank you for keeping it so simple. 🙂

  8. Carolyn Carter says:

    Sharyn, I don’t know when you stopped working for the Chronicle but I applaud your decision to choose the Journalist Code of Ethics as a basis for your reporting. As you know, your Chronicle report regarding our minor son Christopher caused much unnecessary pain to our family. The real story behind Tony Ketchum’s death will never be told because of many mistakes made by the detectives, medical examiner and prosecutor, not to mention lies told by the family and others to deflect accountability and assuage their guilt. In the end, my son has gone on to become a strong, honest and upstanding young man who shares our distrust of law enforcement, the Lewis County legal/political system and their main media voice, The Chronicle. Thank you for breaking out of the system and standing up for what journalism should be. I will pass along your website.

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