Trusted news keeps communities safe

Charlotte Wickins
Charlotte Wickins

Community leaders and residents have spoken of the vital role our trusted news service plays in keeping the region strong, safe, and vibrant.

Last week, we launched a campaign Fighting Fake News and highlighted the very real dangers of fabricated stories peddled across social media.

We highlighted the exemplary standards of training we invest in and the robust codes of conduct we are committed to provide news that is wholly trusted.

It is a campaign that is being supported by local papers across the UK.

This week, residents said our quality journalism was essential in holding those in authority to account and keeping them fully informed of local decisions and information.

Business leaders are backing our campaign to Fight Fake News.

Charlotte Wickins, manager of the Chichester Business Improvement District (BID), said: “Chichester Business Improvement District members are proud to support our local media and BID businesses by fighting fake news.

“In response to both national and global increases in biased, miss-reported and false news, the Observer have recently launched a campaign to Fight Fake News.

“Businesses plan ahead and have to be able to react swiftly to changes in customer demands and their local economy, as well as national trends, so being well-informed across all the media mix is hugely important.

“The last thing anyone needs is fake news!”

In November the Chichester BID was voted in for a second, five-year term, by businesses in the city.

The BID represent businesses and work to increase trade around the city centre.

Paula Seager, director of Natural Partnerships CIC, which organises the Sussex Food and Drink Awards and Southdownsfood.org, said: “It is terrifying how much false news is believed as fact nowadays because someone has stated it on social media – and it is particularly bad when another media outlet then reports it as well, as this lends it even more credibility.

“This is really tough for food and drink businesses to deal with – one negative or vindictive comment on a Twitter feed can become a headline on a newspaper and ruin a business.

“We need to know that we have reliable, responsible media that verifies the truth of stories and reports the facts, not innuendo or misleading information and we need to support this media so that it can continue to provide us with balanced and honest news. I fully support this campaign and the newspapers behind it!”

Margaret Guest, chairman of Don’t Cut Us Out, a campaign group speaking up for vulnerable older and disabled people in West Sussex, said: “I applaud the balanced and fair approach of the Observer in reporting accurately on our campaigns. The paper has been rigorous in checking the facts, challenging and questioning both our and the local authorities’ public statements, to bring local people an informed and true account.

“I know the Observer to be a truly campaigning newspaper – working on behalf of the community to seek out the facts behind any proposed new plan and development from both the public and private sectors; and to critically report on any likely adverse impacts of these changes including any potential loss of services to the community.” Mrs Guest is also chairman of support group Rother Valley Together.

Fact or Fiction?

If you’re not sure that a snippet of local news you’ve seen on social media is fact or fake we can check it out.

Email our hotline at copydesk.sussex@jpress.co.uk with a screen grab of the item or all the details you have and our trained professionals will investigate.

The story needs to be local and it must be passing itself off as news - perhaps it is an alleged crime or a claim about a council decision.

We’ll let you know the outcome of our investigation - and we will share the truth with our readers too. If we don’t have the resources to check it out on this occasion will tell you that as well.