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.
Paula Seager, director, Natural Partnerships CIC, organisers of 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 news-papers behind it!”
Bob Lincoln, of Swan Digital, based at the Riverside Industrial Estate in Wick, is one of the local figures giving their backing to the Fighting Fake News campaign.
Mr Lincoln said: “One of the problems with social media is that, unlike the vast majority of newspapers, it’s very hard to know if news is genuine.
“We have also seen online pop-up adverts posted via Google and other legitimate companies but which have a link which downloads malware – virus or spyware – onto your computer so we advise our customers to take great care when clicking any link.
“It’s better to search for the advertiser’s web address and satisfy yourself they are genuine.
“The problem is that Google and similar organisations seem to take no responsibility for the links people can put in their adverts, although they will investigate if reported – but then it’s often too late.
“Internet protection software can help but it’s not infallible.”
Oyez, Oyez – Worthing’s town crier has added his booming voice to those backing the Fighting Fake News campaign.
Bob Smytherman, who is well known across the area, said: “As town crier, practising the ancient art of town crying, good, honest news is essential – whether delivered from the town crier themselves or a smartphone app.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.