Merriam-Webster's definition: Journalism is the act of collecting and presenting news and information through the media. Our refinement: Journalism is not rumor, speculation or deception.

American's appetite for the truth has never been greater. Regrettably, it's a real challenge for Americans to find the truth. We're in an era when anyone can quickly publish anything and flood their friends with emails, texts or Facebook posts.

Good journalism seeks the truth and presents it in a manner that allows people to understand and make their own judgments. There are many elements of accuracy and timeliness and disclosure of where the information came from.

An incident last week in Madison provided a good example. Law enforcement was called to a convenience store to deal with a dangerous situation. Almost immediately, social media was filled with reckless speculation, in some cases falsely stating names of people who were involved but in reality were not. Rumor was stated as truth, and fiction was implied as fact.

The Daily Leader was on the scene within minutes of the first law enforcement call. We listened to rumors but didn't spread them as known facts. We talked to all sorts of people involved but only published information that could be confirmed. Without being immodest, we provided one of the few accurate records of what really happened. Perhaps our reporting wasn't as juicy or tantalizing as the wild speculation, but it was correct.

This example is not a dramatic one. The Daily Leader is filled with news, information and images that, individually, may be considered minor. But the reporting of events and people in Madison -- essentially writing the history of this area while it's occurring -- shouldn't be minimized.

The staff of the Daily Leader take its responsibility seriously -- and has done so for 130 years. We intend to pursue and report the truth for another 130 years. But that mission isn't easy or inexpensive. Inaccurate texts are free, but real journalism isn't.

If you believe in journalism, we ask you to join us. If you're a subscriber or advertiser, we thank you. If you're not, we respectfully ask you to subscribe or advertise. You can even tell your friends to subscribe.

America needs journalism, and we thank you for your role in supporting it.

-- Jon M. Hunter