By Thomas Wootton
Reliability and trust are vital issues for today’s journalists in a world of fake news and misinformation, according to Laura Collins, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, Laura highlighted the responsibility of journalists to verify and fact-check newspaper stories.
Highlighting the issue of integrity, Laura recalled when the Yorkshire Evening Post was inundated with messages questioning the newspaper’s integrity over reporting the story of a boy left sleeping on a hospital floor.
National and regional papers had reported that Jack, a four-year-old boy suspected of having pneumonia, had been forced to sleep on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary due to no available beds.
Despite featuring a photograph showing Jack lying on a pile of coats with an oxygen mask on, some members of the public questioned whether the picture was staged and accused journalists of lacking integrity.
While Laura remarked that ‘‘people have the freedom to read and believe what they want’’, she emphasised that all articles by the Yorkshire Evening Post go through a vigorous verification and fact-checking process.
Laura Collins said that the ethos behind the Yorkshire Evening Post has always been about serving the public interest and providing information to ‘’people who want to know what’s happening around them”.
Laura said the newspaper will continue to ‘’champion the local community and local causes’’.
The Yorkshire Evening Post’s focus will continuing to be on stories about local people and allowing their voices to be heard, she said.
Following the ethos of the newspaper regarding local communities, Laura said despite the ongoing issues over trust and Covid-19, newspapers have been able to report on positive stories of acts of neighbourly and community kindness.
Despite such positive stories, the issues of integrity, reliability and trust in newspapers has led to negative effects on newspapers and particularly journalists.
Reflecting on her own career and experience, Laura highlighted the abuse that journalists receive on an almost daily basis over their published work, particularly over social media.
‘’Women are easy targets’’ was how Laura described the increasingly disproportionate abuse that female journalists face on social media in response to their work.
This led to the Yorkshire Evening Post launching its Call it out Campaign to encourage its readers and subscribers to help report any form of online abuse especially abuse of social media platforms.
Despite the negative aspects that some reporters face, Laura believes that it should not put off aspiring journalists and believes if they have the passion and drive, it can lead to great success.