In 1944 thousands of brave men of my grandfather’s generation stormed the beaches of Normandy in the name of freedom.
Fast forward 77 years, and selfish antivaxxers with distasteful and historically-illiterate views on “freedom” are storming food courts and protesting outside hospitals.
It’s as if we are living in some sort of alternative timeline – and much like in Back to the Future II, this one sucks. But how did we get here? Obviously a significant part of the problem is the online proliferation of misinformation about COVID-19 and the required – and proven – steps to eradicate it.
While antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists and other peddlers of misinformation have existed for some time, the internet has allowed them to extend their reach beyond their parents’ basements, infecting millions of unsuspecting, selfish, gullible and unintelligent people across the globe.
They have become particularly dangerous during a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 4.5 million people.
Thankfully, newspapers remain one of the last bastions of truth in an unrelenting sea of repugnant misinformation.
As we have witnessed at the Advertiser, the vast majority of readers appreciate the work of real journalists trying to disseminate vital information, particularly in these trying times.
Some of those who have fallen victim to misinformation, either wilfully or inadvertently, have chastised this newspaper and its dedicated employees, calling us “biased” (or far worse) because we refuse to entertain their paranoid delusions. But that won’t stop us.
We will never entertain lies, conspiracies and misinformation, and we will never endanger public health during a global pandemic.
If one person says it’s raining and another person says it isn’t, it is not a journalist’s job to give them equal treatment. It’s our job to look out the window and find out which is true. (In this case it’s more like 80% of people saying there is a bad thunderstorm, 10% saying the rain isn’t that wet and another 10% running around without a coat or umbrella and splashing those of us who are prepared for the weather).
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s just how important it is for Canadians to have access to news they can trust.
People are literally dying due to the prevalence of online misinformation, notably via the scourge that is social media and supported by populist politicians and other talking heads interested in sowing division and hatred.
Now more than ever, independent journalism plays a vital role in local communities and contributes to a healthy democracy. National Newspaper Week is an opportunity to recognize those facts.
Taking place this year from Oct. 3 to 9 with the theme “Champion the Truth,” the week aims to highlight the work Canadian print and digital newspapers do. It also encourages everyone to recognize the important role that newspapers play by providing original content.
How can you show your support? You can write a letter to the editor, remind your family and friends about the importance of newspapers in keeping communities thriving, or simply share newspaper content knowing you’re spreading credible information.
Our staff takes great pride in the fact there hasn’t been a single news disruption at the Advertiser over the last 18 months (sadly, some newspapers across the country have been shuttered), and we look forward to providing you with fact-based reporting – during the pandemic and well beyond.