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Newspapers are still the best source for local news

October 3, 2010
Morning Journal News

Today is the beginning of National Newspaper Week, the week every year during which newspapers pay homage to themselves.

This year's theme, "Newspapers, the print and online connector for today's communities," recognizes the changing role newspapers are playing in society.

The Morning Journal today is much different from what it was when it began as The Buckeye State way back in 1852.

Then the newspaper was published weekly and called itself "The official newspaper of Columbiana County."

Today we publish seven days each week and have become "Columbiana County's Largest Daily Newspaper." We also host a Web site that is updated seven days a week with our news coverage of the county and surrounding area.

The National Newspaper Association, which selects the theme for newspaper week each year, recently commissioned a survey which showed local newspaper Web sites to be the most used and valued sites for consumers seeking credible and trustworthy local content and advertising online. The survey titled Site Matters: The Value of Local Newspaper Web Sites, asked respondents to identify sites they used most often for specific types of local content. Newspaper sites ranked first as a source for local information (29 percent), local sports (27 percent), local entertainment (26 percent) and local classifieds (39 percent), ahead of both local television Web sites and online portals.

So it's safe to say, local newspapers, whether in print or electronic form, continue to be the best providers of local news and information.

At the Morning Journal we pride ourselves on being primarily a local newspaper, meaning we put news of the Columbiana County area first. If you're a loyal reader, you've come to know that our front page contains mainly locally written and produced stories and photographs. National, world and state news are contained inside our pages, but we prefer to focus our attention on local news - a commodity that is still provided mainly by local newspapers.

The news on our Web site comes directly from our newspaper so you can rest assured it is produced by journalists who have integrity, credibility and follow our Morning Journal Code of Ethics.

In addition to tooting our own horn and emphasizing the still-important role that newspapers play in our society today during newspaper week, we also take this opportunity to reinforce our pledge to you - our readers and advertisers - by once again publishing the Morning Journal Code of Ethics on this page.

Based largely on the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, our personalized code helps solidify the bond we have with our reading public and also serves to remind our journalists of the standards they are bound to uphold.

Editor's note: Each year, in celebration of National Newspaper Week, the Morning Journal publishes its Code of Ethics to reaffirm its commitment to our readers. National Newspaper Week is being celebrated this week, Oct. 3-9 with the theme "Newspapers - the print and online connector for today's communities."

Morning Journal Mission Statement: To provide our readers with an appealing product, delivered in a timely manner, providing the most accurate, honest and comprehensive editorial coverage of Columbiana County.

To provide the most accurate, honest and comprehensive editorial coverage of Columbiana County, our first obligation is to our credibility - that is, to the public at large and not to any other person, business or special interest. The purpose of this code of ethics, is not to introduce new standards, but to publicize and reinforce the principles which have always been in place at this newspaper.

Morning Journal Code of Ethics

Conflicts of interest

Newsroom employees should avoid any activity that would impair their integrity or jeopardize readers' trust in us. Therefore, no Morning Journal editorial department employee is permitted to hold political office or serve on boards of public or governmental entities. Employees will not be permitted to head up community campaigns, unless that campaign is sanctioned by the newspaper and the newspaper's participation in that project has been widely acknowledged and publicized. Work by staff members for the people or institutions they cover also should be avoided.

Any extra employment, outside of the newspaper, must be approved by the publisher or editor, prior to the commencement of work. Staffers should not be involved in partisan politics with the exception of registering with a party and voting. Staffers should also not make contributions to political candidates or parties, nor should they sign petitions for candidacy or attend fund-raisers for candidates or issues, unless they are covering the event for the newspaper.

Maintain a clear line between advertising and news

The newspages are especially inviting as targets of threats to remove advertising if news personnel don't write positive stories. In cases of special sections produced by the editorial department, editors will exercise sole judgment over content and information sources will be clearly identified.

Identification of suspects/victims

Identification of juvenile suspects and victims of sex crimes, will in most cases be withheld. Exceptions will be traffic offenses for juveniles and sex crime victims who pursue civil litigation against their alleged attackers. Care should be taken in naming suspects who have not been formally charged. In all cases, the editor will make the final decision as to whether or not the names will be published.

Fair and balanced reporting

Allegations against an individual often require a response. If the person cannot be reached, we should say so - but only after a serious effort to get to the person has been made. Delaying publication should be considered, if possible, to reach the other side; if that is not possible, we should continue to try to get to the person for a follow-up story. If publication of a story has been delayed, additional efforts to get to persons unavailable at the time of writing should be considered.

We will not describe a person by race, religion or ethnic background unless it is pertinent to the story. We will not quote racial, ethnic or religious jokes or slurs unless essential to the story. In descriptions of crime suspects, we will not use racial or ethnic characterizations unless they are part of a fairly complete description of a fugitive suspect that could reasonably assist the public in helping police.

"Off the record"

In order for remarks to be considered "off the record," an agreement must be established between both the source and the reporter before the remarks are made. If a source seeks to classify remarks as "off the record" after they have been uttered, it is up to the reporter or his editor, whether the "off the record" request will be honored. Unless the agreement is made in advance, remarks classified as "off the record" after the fact, may be considered fair game. Any remarks made at a public meeting are fair game, even if the person making the remarks tries to classify them as "off the record." Remarks that are not for publication should not be made in a public meeting.


Reporters, editors and other news professionals should in no way misrepresent their identity in order to gather information for a story. Likewise, fictional identities shall not be used in stories or photographs unless they are clearly labeled as such. Sources may be quoted anonymously, but only if the reporter and editor are informed of the source's identity. Letters to the editor will never be published anonymously.

Photo manipulation

Photos shall not be materially altered. If photos are altered to achieve a special effect warranted by the story, they must be labeled as photo illustrations. Posing of the subjects in photographs will not be allowed, except in pre-publicity shots for coming events.


Corrections of our errors will be made promptly.


Plagiarism from any source will not be tolerated. Press releases may be used as the basis for a news story, but they should never be quoted verbatim without attribution, nor should they contain a reporter's byline. Bylining a verbatim press release is, in essence, lying to readers about the true source of the information. Bylines are also not permitted if press releases are rewritten, but no new information is added.



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