EDITORIAL: The importance of facts and local news

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2019

In the last week, Oxford has seemingly been turned on its head as national news outlets converged on our small town to cover the events surrounding the murder of rising Ole Miss senior Alexandria ‘Ally’ Kostial.  

In today’s world of instant news, it’s easy to let community newspapers go on the back burner in favor of larger, out-of-town outlets.   

Those who regularly read the EAGLE, Oxford’s exclusive community newspaper, are no strangers to the principle I’m going to highlight below. However, as more eyes are turned on our small town and the people tasked with providing accurate news coverage for it, I’d like to provide a refresher on why community newspapers still matter. 

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Those involved with community news do not view tragedies as a ticket to more clicks on a website, more likes or shares on social media. They’re committed to their coverage areas, not because it’s a content generator for them, but because it’s their home, too. They weep alongside grieving loved ones and celebrate even the smallest successes when they get a chance. 

We deeply care about the LOU community because it is our home.  

The EAGLE has received a fair amount of baseless criticism over the last week for a variety of reasons – namely, because we have refused to publish anything that can’t be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt.  

Like many of our readers, we’ve heard the rumors circling around town – rumors which will not be printed in this editorial or anywhere else in this publication unless proven to be fact.  

There has been criticism that more information hasn’t been shared by the EAGLE or other media outlets. Such criticism can be dissuaded with a single explanation: Our role as journalists is publishing fact. Our role is not to disguise opinions or speculation as fact.  

First and foremost, our role is to act as a means for readers to gather enough information to form their own opinions on issues. 

It is easy to stand back and criticize a publication; easier still to discount the hard work of the men and women behind it.  

It is also just as easy to support local, community-based journalism. It’s very simple. If you want community journalism to succeed and improve, actively support it.   

The EAGLE is Oxford’s newspaper. We take pride in that, and you should, too.