Bringing the Community Back to Our Community Newspaper

Dan Wardby Dan Ward

Kudos to the Orlando Sentinel and new editor-in-chief Julie Anderson not only for outlining what we can expect from our hometown newspaper next year, but also for making some necessary changes in how news is gathered and reported.

There’s a lot of good news in this story from John Cutter, including the creation of his new position as content director for operations and standards. It reminds me of the days when the Sentinel, along with many other papers, had an ombudsman to help explain the news-gathering process and serve as the readers’ voice in the newsroom.

Also good news is the return of Mike Lafferty to the Opinion pages, and the promise of re-establishing Opinion as a strong source of commentary on local issues. I’m sure PR pros are also happy to see the focus on finding “stories that no one else is telling,” because it creates opportunities for us and our clients.

More worrisome in my mind is the fact-checking feature, which has devolved in too many cases into opinion journalism. I hope the Sentinel will focus on deciphering fact from myth, rather than the PolitiFact approach of providing opinion-based commentary. I’m also concerned any time I hear about a newsroom’s role as a “watchdog” to expose corruption. While exposing corruption and mismanagement is undoubtedly important, a “watchdog” is always on guard for something to go wrong. I’m hopeful Julie and her team will also see, and report on, all the good that is being done in Central Florida.

All in all, it’s clearly a time of change for the Sentinel. And as someone who still reads the newspaper cover to cover each morning, I’m looking forward to what our hometown paper has in store for us in 2019.

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