Jul 25 2019

The Daily Times, Blount County's daily newspaper of record, has recently allowed a number of factual and contextual errors to creep into their reporting. For example, did you know that the Little Tennessee River flows through Townsend? I didn't either, but it says so right there on today's front page. Twice.

A report about a police sting operation led to Tuesday's front page headline suggesting there was human trafficking going on at a well-respected national chain hotel in the area. I noticed today that it was changed in the online edition, but the headline blaring from newsstands around town can't be unseen.

I've written to the editor a couple of times about recent errors. Twice the reporter respond to me, and both times the reporter defended his statements, apparently believing them to be correct. The paper has not printed any corrections that I have noticed.

While some of the errors are of no great consequence, they can affect reader's understanding of context around an issue. Worse, they affect the overall credibility of the paper's reporting. If they can't get basic facts right, how can we trust their reporting on the bigger picture?

The Daily Times has gone through many recent changes with new ownership, a new publisher, a new editor, and young new reporters. Some of the reporting and editing (or lack thereof) suggests "they aren't from around here, are they?". A lot of institutional knowledge about local history, culture and civics was lost in the transition. Dean Stone and Buzz Trexler are sorely missed.

There is much lamenting about the decline of newspapers and journalism. One must wonder which came first: the decline in quality or the decline in readership? Which is the cause and which is the effect?

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