Why trusted local journalism matters more than ever before - Laura Collins, YEP Editor
It was an extraordinary week that has seen the profession and industry I love come under attack like never before.
Your Yorkshire Evening Post and its team of journalists were at the centre of an unprecedented onslaught of abuse as the virus of fake news spread across social media.
The story, which graced this title’s front page last week about a little boy who slept on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary, was branded as “fake news” as thousands of people across Twitter and Facebook shared and spread the claims.
We were contacted by readers calling our journalism “sloppy” and questioning why we weren’t printing the truth about what happened.
However, we were forced to defend our journalism like never before.
Our team of reporters had checked the validity of the story before it made its way onto our website and into print - and even though they defended their trade this still wasn’t enough for some.
And it’s understandable to see why.
Everyone has the freedom to read what they want and believe what they want given there are so many places to consume news.
Yet we were not willing to sit by idly and watch on as the misinformation continued to be swallowed by those of you who were trying to discern the truth between truth and lies.
Your YEP made a bold statement - we published the fiction that was circulating and warned the public to be careful when it comes to ensuring what they share across media platforms. Has it been verified by an accountable and trusted publisher that thoroughly researches before publishing?
The response to this was humbling and reaffirmed exactly why society needs journalists and solid quality, fact-checked journalism to wade through the mire of noise and fakery online.
One response sums it up: “the deeper people have dug and delved they have unearthed nothing but integrity, honesty and determination to do the right thing.”
And that is exactly why local journalism matters.
Honesty, integrity and trust are at the very heart of our stories.
Our industry is under constant attack as keyboard warriors hide behind their screens launching their tapped out grenades across the social battlefield.
And that is why today we are launching a special series shining a spotlight on the very real pressures our wonderful National Health Service is facing as the cold weather continues to bite.
We are championing those healthcare professionals who day in, day out go above and beyond to provide the very best care they possibly can at a time of the year when the service is feeling the most strain.
And the only way to really get under the skin of this is to speak to those at the very heart of this.
I would challenge any of our readers to look those workers in the eye and then question the validity of what they are telling us.
They are at the sharp end of the service - and we are so very grateful for their work.