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The Public Trust


with David McCumber

Editor, Montana Standard

Newspapers are for-profit enterprises. But they are more than that. Readers expect much of their newspapers. They expect the news to be covered with energy and thoroughness, particularly the local news. That's just for starters. They also expect a newspaper to be a watchdog—to be a protector of the "little guy," an advocate for truth and fairness not only in what we write, but in government and public affairs in general. In other words, if people are not being treated fairly; if they are being endangered, or discriminated against, or taken advantage of, they expect us to blow the whistle. That's a newspaper's unwritten contract with the community it serves. We newspaper editors frequently call it "the public trust." And it's a real thing that not only has a big impact on a newspaper's brand but also on the community it serves.