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.
Joss Loader, former Worthing Herald news editor and assistant editor, and current Independent Adur district councillor for Shoreham Beach, said she ‘wholeheartedly’ supported the Fighting Fake News campaign – underlining the importance of reliable, regulated journalism.
She said: “Newspapers and broadcasters form a vital part of the democratic process and are well regulated by current legislation,” she said.
“Sadly, on social media, anything goes.
“On a local level, we regularly see kangaroo courts, convened on ‘closed’ Facebook sites, whereby people have no chance to defend themselves. Public perception invariably becomes ‘truth’ and victims of keyboard warriors are effectively hung out to dry.
“I’m not a fan of further regulating the press but the Government needs to take urgent action to enforce existing legislation online – particularly libel laws and contempt of court breaches. Ministers’ silence otherwise implies consent.”
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 news-papers behind it!”
Oyez, Oyez – Worthing’s town crier has added his booming voice to those backing the Fighting Fake News campaign.
Bob Smytherman, who is well known across the area, said: “As town crier, practising the ancient art of town crying, good, honest news is essential – whether delivered from the town crier themselves or a smartphone app.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.