Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Trusting the news

by Melanie Jongsma, Publisher

LANSING, Ill. (November 8, 2022) – For weeks I’ve been seeing ads on TV about “phony newspapers.” I’ve also received half a dozen oversized mailers warning me not to be fooled.

I received this mailer at my home address. The reverse side includes a quote from the Chicago Tribune and a reference to NBC5 Chicago. Both those news outlets describe North Cook News, West Cook News, and South Cook News as “mailers styled as newspapers” and “mailings…filled with purported news articles containing misinformation.” (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The mailing with this headline and graphic urged me not to believe “fake newspapers” but to “check the facts.” The reverse side of the mailer provided four facts from three other media sources — a Chicago Trib editorial, WMBD, and Injustice Watch. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

A couple of things are fascinating to me about this whole campaign strategy:

  1. We still inherently trust a newspaper. If that were not true, LGIS (Local Government Information Services) — the organization publishing South Cook News and others — would not have chosen this format for sharing information. And the Democratic Party of Illinois, which sent the mailers pictured above, would not be so worried about people believing what they read in the South Cook News.
  2. We still inherently trust other media too. In order to disprove the South Cook News, the mailers quote a Chicago newspaper, a Chicago broadcast company, a Peoria-based radio and TV station, and a multimedia journalism organization.
  3. That trust is probably based on an assumption of objectivity. This apparent battle between LGIS and the Democratic Party of Illinois uses newspapers and journalism because only our media institutions claim to be objective and unbiased. Political leaders, religious leaders, businesses, advocacy groups, the entertainment industry — all those have an agenda, a desired influence. The job of a journalist is supposed to be simply gathering facts and reporting them. When people say they don’t trust media, it’s usually because they believe the media are showing bias.

Earning your trust

Why am I writing about this? Because I think trust is important. It grieves me when faceless organizations try to manipulate our trust by blending truth with deception.

At The Lansing Journal, we take your trust seriously.

We work to earn your trust not only in the accurate, balanced reporting we do, but also in less obvious ways:

  • We put a byline on every story, so you know a real person wrote it. If the article is a press release, the byline will tell you who sent it to us, so you can judge for yourself whether that source might be biased.
  • We provide the names, photos, and bios of all our journalists, because we want you to know they are local people with families and hobbies and accomplishments.
  • One of the reasons Josh and I started doing weekly videos was so that you, our readers, could have a more personal connection with us. We want you to see our faces and hear our voices and know we are real people.
  • We offer a variety of ways for our community to be represented in the Journal — Local Voices, news tips, weather photos, comments. That kind of shared ownership helps build trust.
  • We’ve been transparent about our finances. I send fundraising appeals when we need money to keep this free newspaper going. And each month I publish the names of people who give — not only do I want to thank them, but I also want all our readers to see that real people are giving so that we can keep reporting.

Building community

It is increasingly difficult to know what to believe. Or who to trust. I’m writing this post because I want to make sure you know we appreciate the trust you place in us. We work every day to be worthy of that trust.

If you ever have questions about information we’ve provided, or if you feel we’ve shown bias or somehow broken your trust, please let us know. We want to learn from our mistakes and continually improve.

Thank you for Building Community with us,

P.S. To find out more about our brand of local journalism, visit our Building Community page:

Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


  1. That’s why we appreciate you and your staff so much! Good writing, Interesting, informational, beautiful weather photos and trustworthy! THANK YOU!

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