Paper’s efforts remain strong

As the local newspaper of record, we aim to keep the public informed. This becomes a greater challenge when authorities and government agencies limit access to the information people want and need to know.

In our coverage of major local news events recently, we’ve encountered some rough spots with the authorities. When police agencies release information to the paper, the public is better served. When they put up roadblocks, the public should know why.

We are committed to obtaining information to keep the public informed, regardless of the hurdles police and government may place in our path. Furthermore, no reporters or editors of this newspaper – a longstanding member of the Fourth Estate – will allow themselves to be intimidated. As ardent supporters of the First Amendment and tenacious fighters for democracy, we never will allow anyone to block our efforts to gather and present the news.

On Friday, during his coverage of a plane crash in Ephratah, a veteran Leader-Herald journalist was threatened with arrest and disrespected by law enforcement and emergency officials while he was doing his job – trying to ask questions and take photos at a police command post. Meanwhile, some at the scene gathering news of the event were given access to information and allowed to take photos without the threat of arrest. Despite the obstacles, we gave the public the coverage it would expect from the local newspaper’s print and online editions.

Sometimes, we face other difficulties in covering news events. For example, authorities sometimes fail to inform us about news conferences or send us news releases that go to other press outlets. We want our readers to know that when this happens, we will hunt down the information and carry out our news-gathering mission.

Local authorities should have procedures for providing information to the public. They should give equal access to all established local media, inform them about news conferences, try to answer questions and not withhold press releases from reputable news services.

Cases such as plane crashes, accidents and lake drownings can be chaotic, and giving information to the public may not be among authorities’ highest priorities, but the public deserves to know what’s going on. Our print and online readers can rest assured, no matter the situation, we will report the news.