You might not realize this but the journalists who write your local newspaper live in your community. They might be your neighbor or someone you pass at the grocery store. They are not “the media” as many refer to us as.
I’m proud to be a local journalist writing stories that matter to people who live in Lake Mills and the surrounding area. From attending Town and Country Days, to writing about the upcoming school referendum and attending city council meetings, I am providing you with the best information I can, as quickly as I can.
Being a journalist is often referred to as a “fun” job and it can be, but it is also hard. What you don’t see are the long hours spent after a board meeting writing a story for the next day’s paper, covering tragedies that might involve people you know, and hours spent away from family because you are trying to cover one more event for next week’s paper.
Every journalist has had a moment where they question if working at a newspaper is the best career for them. I know I have, but then I remember all the relationships I have made working at local papers. You get to know your school superintendent, business leaders and all the ‘helpers,’ as Mr. Rogers would say, in the community.
Journalists are also writers of history. They chronicle what is happening in their town, and those stories will be read long after they are gone. Their stories are already in libraries all over the country. What an amazing job to have!
Because I work daily at a newspaper and have for the last six years when, I think of the media I don’t think of the national news outlets we see on TV and all-over social media I see the local, hardworking reporters who I know from across the state. I see the local government watchdogs who sit at countless meetings and report late into the night on news that affects you and your life.
Are journalists like me and my colleagues here at the Lake Mills Leader and other local newspapers such as the Daily Jefferson County Union and Watertown Daily Times reporting fake news. Are we the enemy?
All journalists, even us small town guys and gals, get lumped in one way or another with the anti-media waters being churned by President Trump and others.
I do not write today to choose sides on the right or left of national politics. Nor is this an attack on the president’s policies.
Instead, I write today on behalf of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in defense of an attack that was not started by any of the newspapers in Wisconsin. We join newspapers from across the nation who this week are using their editorial pages to stand united in their defense of our profession.
Even small-town papers are accused of writing “fake news,” but that’s not what we are doing here. Newspapers are the first to admit they are not perfect, but on all levels, we are serious about what we see as our core roles: documenting the daily and weekly history of our towns and serving as watchdogs to protect the public’s interest.
We will be here long after this president and others are no longer tweeting against the media. You are reading issue 39 of your Lake Mills Leader, which has been around for 140 years.
That, my friends, is not fake news.