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Earning public trust our priority

Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 11:22 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:54 p.m. CST

The First Amendment prohibits the making of any law that impedes the free exercise of religion, abridges freedom of speech, infringes on the freedom of the press, interferes with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibits the petitioning of government for redress of grievances.

The First Amendment does not eliminate responsibility and accountability for one’s words and actions.

As reported on page 2 of today’s newspaper, Bob Eschliman is no longer the editor of the Newton Daily News.

Last week, he expressed an opinion on his personal blog that in no way reflects the opinion of the Newton Daily News or Shaw Media. While he is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.

Shaw Media’s “Statement of editorial principles,” which can be read in full by clicking on the link at the bottom of NewtonDailyNews.com, starts with this:

“Because journalists subject people and institutions to intense and constant scrutiny, we must maintain the highest principles in our conduct. Our integrity is our most valuable asset. Without it, we lose the public trust invested in us by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

In the past week, we have lost some of that public trust that is so vital to our existence. Today, we hope to begin earning it back.

There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly cite Mr. Eschliman’s First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as editor of the Newton Daily News.

As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.

We take our responsibility as a media company seriously. Our Promise is to provide relevant information, marketing solutions for our business partners, and to advocate for the communities we serve. To be effective advocates, we must be able to represent the entire community fairly.

We appreciate the feedback from readers that we’ve received in the past week. This is your newspaper, and once again you’ve shown how deeply you care about it.

We thank everyone for their concern, and we look forward to continuing to serve you into the future.

John Rung is president of Shaw Media, owner of the Newton Daily News.

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