Those of us in the media these days work doubly hard to keep our reputations in check, both on an individual level and the product we work for.

It’s gotten harder in recent years when you have a president and others who call what we produce “fake news.” Calls of bias have been around for centuries, but calling what we do fake is something else. There is, indeed, bias in the media. Fake is another matter. Of course, “fake news” often is code for saying “I disagree with what you report, and it made me look bad, so it must be made up.” If a news story makes someone look bad, and the report is factual, then the problem lies with that person.

Make no mistake, media outlets error in their reporting. This newspaper will print a correction if we get something wrong. It’s embarrassing to make a mistake. It’s something we strive to avoid. But mistakes do happen.

But to call The Record or any other outlet a source of “fake news,” because something makes a person look bad, is just wrong.

This type of criticism did not begin with our current president and it won’t end when he no longer is in office. Newspapers and other media outlets have always heard such criticism. If we write about the misuse of funds by an office holder, or report on the actions of a crooked politician or football coach or whatever the case, the person reported on has always said the “news” was made up or fake.

We work hard to combat calls of fake news, and always have. Sometimes it’s easy: we can simply point to the evidence and say, “See, here’s the proof.” 

Still, it’s not easy.

Public-affairs media outlet C-SPAN host and producer Steve Scully was put on administrative leave after he falsely suggested his Twitter feed had been hacked as he was preparing to moderate a second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Scully isn’t as high-profile as other TV people, but he’s still one of us media folks.

“These actions have let down a lot of people, including my colleagues at C-SPAN, where I have worked for the past 30 years, professional colleagues in the media, and the team at the Commission on Presidential Debates,” Scully said in a statement. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself.”

What he did made us all look bad, and played right into the hands of the “fake news” believers. Scully didn’t make up news to hurt someone, but his dishonesty still hurt all our credibility.

Recently, The Record has received phone calls from people or relatives of said people who were in the news following their arrests on various things. The callers have complained that their names or the name of a relative being in the paper was going to ruin their lives or the lives of family members. The callers haven’t accused us of making up the news, they’ve just criticized us for reporting the news.

I’ve been told many times over the years that I ruined someone’s life because their name was printed in the paper following an arrest for drunk driving or another crime. No, I always tell them, your life has been impacted because you were caught driving intoxicated, not that the incident was reported on in the local paper. I’ve had people call who – knowing their name was about to be in the paper – threatened, begged or offered to bribe me to keep their name out of publication.

The bottom line: if you do wrong, don’t blame the local paper.

We try to always do our best when reporting the news. If we make a mistake, we’ll own up to it. But if the reporting is honest and truthful, and if still you don’t like it, don’t call it fake.