The Fine Line Between Fact And Fiction


Deciding whether to address a rumor is a difficult decision for any business or individual. Most of us try to live by a philosophy that the majority of rumors are false until proven otherwise. This makes for a much happier and healthier course in life.

But sadly, there are some people who look for deceit and conspiracy around every corner and their cynicism can give wings to a rumor.

At this moment, there is a rumor circulating around the Rim country about a letter the Roundup "refuses to print." The rumor has developed such legs that it was recently "reported" as news on a local radio station.

Because we are your hometown newspaper, the latest and freshest rumors are funneled directly to us, usually by people who can't understand why we don't put them on our front page in bold banner headlines. They automatically deduce that the Roundup is part of some larger conspiracy to keep the "truth" out of the public venue.

Of course, the truth is that newspapers good ones, anyway strive to print only those rumors which can, in one way or another, be verified by police reports, witnesses, documents, or some other evidence.

Which brings us to that letter submitted to the editor that we haven't printed. The letter was simply too long. The author was immediately told it would be printed if it was resubmitted at our published letter limit about 400 words or less, a rule regularly published on this page. Two members of this newspaper's editorial staff spoke directly to the author and assured him it would be printed once submitted at a reasonable length, a limitation which is fairly applied to all our readers who submit their opinions.

We print most all letters received that adhere to the rule about avoiding personal attacks and keeping close to 400 words or less. We sincerely appreciate the opinions of the readers who put their thoughts in writing whether we agree with them or not while steering clear of back-stabbing and rumor-mongering.

We take seriously our responsibilty to provide news and information supported by facts, and always welcome input from the community.

The Journalist's Creed

I believe in the profession of journalism.

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy, and fairness, are fundamental to good journalism.

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one's own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instructions or another's dividends.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds best and best deserves success fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world.

Walter Williams, Dean, School of Journalism, University of Missouri (1908-1935)

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