Opinion: The Chattanooga Times Free Press is answering readers’ questions. Here’s why.

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd /  The Chattanooga Times Free Press building, located at 400 East 11th Street, is seen as the sun rises on March 21, 2023.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Chattanooga Times Free Press building, located at 400 East 11th Street, is seen as the sun rises on March 21, 2023.

A hundred big and little decisions are made in our newsroom every day as we build the Times Free Press.

What stories should we cover?

Who should we interview as we research and report on a story?

What photograph should we run with the story?

Should we focus on one angle or another?

Some of these are guided by journalism conventions, some by our understanding of the community and, honestly, some by gut instinct. The answers to some of these questions come easily while others inspire a robust debate.

Sometimes, readers ask questions about the choices we make.

Why did we cover a particular event but not give any ink to something else? Why do we dive into certain topics and cover others just a little?

Why do we think fill-in-the-blank is a story at all?

In an effort to be more transparent and shed more light on how the newspaper functions, the Times Free Press is starting a new initiative to explain how we make decisions about how we practice journalism. It's an attempt to demystify our decision-making and offer explanations and insight into our reporting process.

Readers will start seeing FAQs in the paper and on our website.

We've included some of the most common questions we receive from readers, but we'd also like to invite you to add more to the list. Let us know what else you would like to know about how we work.

The FAQs will address topics such as how we decide when and if to use anonymous sources or how we decide what crimes to cover or what a correction or clarification means. They also will explain things like how we cover elections and how the opinion pages work.

Another set of these FAQs will provide helpful information to readers about issues ranging from how to register to vote to how to access public records.

Our mission is to inform residents of the Chattanooga region about the most important things happening here and explain how they impact people and shape the community. We try our hardest to do this with impartiality and live up to our core values that call for "reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias."

We try to follow the words of the late Chattanooga Times publisher Adolph Ochs that are printed on the front page of the paper every day: "To give the news impartially, without fear or favor."

(Fun fact: One of our reporters actually has the words "without fear or favor" tattooed on her back).

Most importantly, we believe the newspaper provides a service, and we're here to serve our readers and our community.

The FAQs are our promise to be more transparent as we do this vital work. So we'd like to hear from you, our readers and subscribers. If you have questions about the paper or anything we can explain, please email us at news@timesfreepress.com or use this form.

Contact Alison Gerber, editor of the Times Free Press, at agerber@timesfreepress.com.

  photo  Staff photo by Robin Rudd Alison Gerber, Editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, was photographed in the newspaper's newsroom on August 30, 2018.

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