Live from Marion County, it’s fake news
Fake news isn’t something that happens just in Washington. We in Marion County seem pretty adept at fostering fake news without any help from Beltway pundits.
Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce sent an email Monday afternoon asking whether anyone in the area had a bouncy house.
It wasn’t that the chamber wanted to set up yet another bouncy house for the three-day run of the county fair. It was so it could set one up for 15 minutes as a backdrop for a planned KWCH-TV (Channel 12) news report touting the fair Thursday morning.
Hillsboro promoters apparently know how to get on local TV.
Morning show producers, including one we recently interviewed for a job as a reporter here, have to scramble each day to fill four hours of air time with whatever they can find that can be portrayed in live video.
Give a producer something to shoot, and he or she will air whatever you want. Putting up a bouncy house at 5:45 a.m. becomes the perfect way to reach the 4,100 viewers spread over 70 counties, including one way up in Nebraska, that A.C. Nielsen says watch KWCH’s local news in the morning.
Hillsboro isn’t alone in figuring out how to create news coverage. Marion got in the act earlier this year when it agreed to donate $920 to KPTS-TV (Channel 8) in exchange for Marion being featured on two news programs in addition to some half-minute commercials on what is supposed to be commercial-free public TV.
We like KPTS as much as the city does. We’ve actually traded ads with the station and have allowed it to re-package and distribute stories we originate, in addition to appearing periodically on one of its panel shows. But that’s a lot different than paying for news coverage.
People say newspapers are dying. We beg to differ. What we do see as dying is journalistic integrity — the notion that you can’t fake or buy news coverage.
If refusing to sell news space and refusing to allow staged news within our columns makes us a dinosaur, at least we can go extinct with our ethics intact.
One reason we like being a subscription newspaper is that our biggest customer is you, the reader. We have to serve you first, before we consider what advertisers or public officials want. That doesn’t always make them happy with us (and this editorial won’t help in that regard), but it does make us sleep better at night, knowing we’ve done our part to make democracy work.
— ERIC MEYER